Monday, July 24, 2006
How to Handle Offenders
People think that they can create a better world by annihilating all those who are against it, but Jesus may not agree!
Recently, in Mumbai a man who appeared to be a thief was beaten to death. The people did not care to hand him over to the police, but they took the law in their own hands. That's what the Jewish leaders who brought the woman caught in adultery also wanted to do (John 8:1-11). Their thinking was very much in line with that of the legal and social systems of our day: the best way to get rid of sin is to annihilate the sinner.
Those who commit crimes or sins continue by trivializing their act. People can always point out to bigger crimes and get away with their "small" offenses. They can always justify saying that they are not the only ones who does such things. We live in a day when people think that paying penance is the be best way to get over sin and its effect. Mahatma Gandhi once told a person who killed a Muslim boy during the riots following India's partition that he can get over the guilt by adopting a Muslim boy and bringing up as his own. That hardly removes the guilt in the eyes of God, but may help us to manage the guilt feeling. Modern psychiatry teaches us to manage anger, get over guilt feelings, etc. but hardly reconciles us to God.
In every act of sin, at least three parties are involved. One the offended, against whom the sin is committed. The second the offender, the one who commits the sin. However, often in the modern thinking the third party is often ignored. That is God. Every act of sin has grieved the heart of God and every sin is committed against God. Penance may sometimes help the offender by helping to feel good; it may also help the offended also. Revenge may help the offended. None of these removes the guilt in the eyes of God. that requires forgiveness from God. Unless we hear God's voice saying "Go Now..." (John 8:11) it is not forgiven. Only God can do that, and that is what Jesus did to this woman. His way of handling the sin is not by trivializing sin, nor by annihilating the sinner but by transforming the sinner to a saint, someone forgiven
There was a woman who claimed that she get direct revelations from God. A committed Christian wanted to test her and asked her to find out from God about the sins he committed while in college. The following day he approached this woman to find out what God's reply was. She said that when she asked God about the sins he committed in the past, God told her that he doesn't remember any. Sins forgiven by God are forgotten for ever!
An offender continues until caught. Once caught the s/he may not be spared. However, the Lord let us free from the guilt of sin on one condition. That is a commitment not to sin again, to have a desire to live lives that are upright before him. That is why he said to this woman, "Leave your life of sin!" (John 8:11). It is a call to holiness: "Be holy as I am holy". When tempted to trivialize our sins let us remember we can come to Jesus for cleansing.
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