#Canceled | Christ Fellowship Church
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If Jesus never canceled anyone, should we?

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Ryan McDermott

March 10, 2020

We use the word "cancel" all the time. Oh, my meeting got canceled. Thank you Jesus, I didn’t want to go to that anyway. Oh, Disney+ is coming out…Friends was removed…they are losing The Office? Let me go ahead and cancel my Netflix subscription. Oh, you finally found a TV show you like? Don’t worry, it will get canceled. When something is canceled, it goes away. While canceling used to refer primarily to things, we now live in a world where you can cancel people. 

Britney was canceled in like 2007 with her bald head and umbrella. Now we kind of get it. Chris Brown after Rihanna...canceled for sure. Scarlett Johansson, James Charles, Lindsay Lohan, Harvey Weinstein, R Kelly, Logan Paul, Kevin Hart… Kanye was canceled like 12 times, first with the whole “imma let you finish but” but then with his comments about slavery or his support of Trump. But now he’s a Christian so we 'bout it. Everybody has been canceled by somebody. 

Preachers and sneakers. 

While this conversation may have begun with the idea of canceling celebrities, politicians, or anyone who takes up space in the public consciousness… I’ve literally heard people say to one another in normal conversation, “You’re canceled.” Canceling essentially means to reject or dismiss someone as having no value because of something that they have done. Everybody has been canceled by somebody. The world cancels the world, the church will cancel the world. The church will even cancel the church. 

Here’s the thing…I wonder…how does Jesus respond to canceled culture? 

"Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. 'Teacher,' they said to Jesus, 'this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?' They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, 'All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!' Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, 'Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?' 'No, Lord,' she said. And Jesus said, 'Neither do I. Go and sin no more.'” - John 8:1-11

One of the things we see in this story is how Jesus responds to canceled culture. 

His first RESPONSE... 1.) Jesus always identifies with the individual. Upon hearing the accusations against this woman, I love the first thing that Jesus does. The Bible tells us that He stooped down (v6). Before responding to their comments, before speaking a word, His first act in this situation was one of compassion. He got down on her level. Everyone else is yelling at her and pointing fingers at her and shaming her and spitting on her. But Jesus… Jesus looks her in the eyes. I think of how you might watch a parent bend down to have a conversation with a child. Get on their level. Look them in the eye. Communicates connection. Communicates value. Jesus made sure to communicate to this woman that He was with her, right there in the middle of her mess. 

Jesus was really good at separating issues from individuals. They are not the same thing. Jesus is concerned about her issue, but He is way more concerned about the individual. Should we assume from this story that their accusations were false? That she was innocent? No, she had been caught in the act. Should we assume from this story that Jesus doesn't see a problem with adultery? No, that is not the point at all! What we see here is that Jesus is more concerned about the value of the individual than He is about their issues. Jesus doesn’t condone her sin but He does have compassion for the sinner. Jesus doesn’t affirm her lifestyle, but He does accept her. He doesn’t validate her choices, but He doesn’t allow those choices to diminish her value as a person. Jesus always identifies with the individual. 

His second RESPONSE… 2.) Jesus always stands up for those who have been knocked down. Verse 7 tells us that as the 

crowd… kept demanding an answer, Jesus stood up and spoke out… 

A major aspect of Christianity is standing for those who cannot stand for themselves. It is advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. The book of James talks about how true religion means looking after orphans and widows. Now, this is by no means an extensive list of those we ought to care for, right? In the sermon on the mount Jesus Himself implores us to care for what He called “the least of these.” See Jesus always stands with the mistreated and the marginalized. Jesus always stands with the obviously overlooked. Jesus always stands up for those who have been knocked down. 

Now, let’s just be clear. As followers of Jesus, there are plenty of things in culture that we should stand up against. There are a lot of things, as Christians, that we OUGHT to cancel. We ought to cancel things like violence and poverty and injustice. We ought to cancel things like sexism, racism, prejudice, bigotry, shaming, the list goes on and on. But the reason we ought to stand up against those things is because they knock people down. And we are called to care deeply about all people. God hates those things. God hates sin. But the reason He hates sin is because it destroys what He loves most. You and me. We can and should stand up against the problems in our world, but never at the expense of the people God has called us to love.

Third RESPONSE... 3.) Jesus always values those who have been canceled by culture. 

"Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, 'Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn (CANCEL) you?' 'No, Lord,' she said. And Jesus said, 'Neither do I. Go and sin no more.'” - John 8:10-11

The word that is translated as “condemn” here actually means “to judge worthy of punishment.” Even though the crowds wanted her dead. Even though they were quick to condemn her. Even though they wanted her to be canceled. Jesus follows their lead. He doesn’t give in to their demands. Rather, He offers this woman love, and grace, and forgiveness. He offers her another chance. Yes, He lets her know that her choices were sinful. Yes, He encourages her to live differently in light of the mercy she has been shown. But He doesn’t condemn her. Interestingly, canceling someone rarely leads to a change in their behavior or perspective… but you know what often does? Compassion. Here is what I believe. 

Bottom Line: If Jesus never canceled people, neither should we. 

Jesus says in this passage “let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” Obviously, the people walk away because none of them are without sin. And they realize it. In fact, by that standard the only one in this passage who could throw a stone at this woman…was Jesus. Guess what? He doesn’t. If anyone had the right to condemn her it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to judge her worthy of punishment, it was Jesus. If anyone could have canceled this woman, it was Jesus. But He didn’t. Why is that we often choose to cancel those whom Christ’s values? I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that Jesus doesn’t throw the stone at me. I think I’ll do my best not to throw them at others.