The Daniel Dilemma
Break the Ice
If you could teleport anywhere in the world for the next 3 hours, where would you go and what would you do there?
Truth vs. love.
It’s a dilemma we face every day. How do we as Christians maintain our standards and serve God faithfully while loving people in our culture? The two ideas often seem to be morally opposed. As Chris Hodges puts it, “Truth without grace is mean. Grace without truth is meaningless.”
So where’s the middle ground?
That was the question Jesus faced in John 8. As He was teaching in the temple courts, the Pharisees and teachers of the law barged in and presented a woman at his feet. This woman was caught in the act of adultery, a capital offense according to Old Testament law. The religious leaders intended to trap and humiliate Jesus, who was now in a tight spot. If He followed the letter of the law and called for the woman to be stoned, He wouldn’t be showing the love and grace He publicly proclaimed. But if He let her off scot-free, He would show disregard for Jewish laws and hurt His credibility.
The tension thick, Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Now that’s a mic drop moment.
One by one, the woman’s accusers dropped their heads and departed until only Jesus and the woman remained. Jesus turned to her and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
In those final eight words we find that elusive middle ground.
- Go now: Because I love you, you’re free to go. You won’t be held guilty for your mistakes. I forgive you and I think the world of you.
- And leave your life of sin: While I’ve shown you compassion, I’m also correcting you. You can’t keep living the way you have. There is a better way; there is freedom!
Jesus shows love and grace, but he doesn’t let the woman off the hook. In one sentence, Jesus displays both love and righteousness.
We’d be wise to employ Jesus’ tactics today. In a world where culture changes quickly and many have drawn a hard line when it comes to sexual orientation, gender roles, race, politics, and other hot button topics, it can feel easy to either “go with the flow” or become so angry that we condemn those we don’t agree with.
But Jesus shows there’s a better way. There is a middle ground where truth and grace intersect, and when we find it, we can make meaningful change in our world.
Key Passage: John 17:15-18
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
- What’s the context of this situation?
- Where is Jesus as He’s praying?
- What else did He pray for during this time?
- What does this passage mean for our lives today?
- How does this passage apply to our lives today?
- What does it mean to be in the world but not of it? How can you apply this thinking in your life?
- Do you struggle with the intersection of standing firm in what you believe and loving well?Why or why not?
- Which do you find yourself giving more of when it comes to modern culture: grace or truth? Why?
- What lifestyle changes did you make after you accepted Christ into your life?
- Examining your life, when has someone shown you the same balance Jesus shows here,showcasing both love and righteousness?
- In Psalm 139:23-24, David asks God to “search me and know me.” Have you ever prayed that prayer? Is the thought of doing so intimidating? Why or why not?
- What does it mean for Christ to “sanctify” you?
- Do you view your faith as a private act between you and God? Why or why not?
- How does Matthew 5:14 affect your answer to the previous question?
- As you pray this week, ask God to search you and know you. Ask Him to point out the areas of your life that might need some cleaning up.
- What things can you clean out of your hard drive to get out the bad stuff?
- How can you act on Romans 12:2 and “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”?
- Who can you show your light (Matthew 5:14) to this week? What will you do to show them the light?
Close in Prayer