John 8:1–11 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “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.” Many of us believe we are the worst actors in human history. For some of us, rightfully so. And yet, there’s grace for you. This woman, caught in the act, had to be convinced her life was over. Jesus, shining grace upon grace, sets her free. This theme has come up for me and several others in my life over the last few months. The entire hope of the Gospel is that there’s grace for us. Why do so many of us find that hard to believe? Are we all just pretending? As a pastor, I spend a lot of time with people and I know their secrets and pain. I know some of your favorite pastor’s secrets and pains as well. The Church tends to think we’re immune from these problems, we’re not. I know the things they won’t tell. I know the things I won’t tell. In the end, we’re all broken. We’re all just trying to figure it out. And yet, we all put up this front like we’re ok like we have all of the answers. What would it look like for us to drop the mask? To just be real with each other and ourselves. What would the beloved community be if we were to do so? Lies 1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He prowls around looking for someone to devour. The easiest place to do so is in our minds. It all started in the garden. He whispered lies into the ears of Adam and Eve. There’s a reason the Bible describes him as a deceiver. If you believe the lie, if I believe the lie, then we are going to have to look somewhere else for hope. That’s his whole plan: to get us to turn away. But where would we go? What could possibly provide us with the same security offered to us in the Gospel? I like studying cultures. I’m interested in people and work in diverse settings so it’s advantageous for me. Nearly every culture imprints on its people that acceptance is found through work; you have to be good enough to be a part of the ingroup. There are acceptable patterns of behavior that the majority conform to. We’ve taken this to the extreme. Acceptance is found in likes and retweets, and however, affirmation is conveyed on Threads. What an exhausting existence. And because we are being formed by everything but the God who made us, it’s easy to believe the lies. Hope for Tomorrow f we don’t believe there is grace for us then how do we have hope for tomorrow? Seriously, how do we even get out of bed if all of our bad actions, missteps, and sins mean nothing but eternal doom for us? What’s the point? But if the Gospel is true… If it is true, then all of our sins are hung on the cross with Jesus. That’s not some funky Christian cliche, that HAS to be real life. That has to be true. I need it to be true. Some of us are just trying to sneak into heaven, praying that God would let us in by the skin of our teeth. That’s not what the Gospel says. It says that if you are in, then you are IN. God’s arms are wide open and you are paraded and celebrated in front of everyone. There is no back door. You are made new. Adopted as daughters and sons of the King. The stigmas and pains and consequences of what we’ve done may be here with us today but they won’t be there with us tomorrow. On a practical level (because I know for a lot of us hearing about hope in the sweet by and by is annoying) five, ten, twenty years from now, very few people are going to care about what you did today. Life and time move on. Relationships heal. Scars begin to fade. You can still get out of bed. You can still experience joy. You can still have the fullness of life. Life rarely ever turns out the way we expect it to. We make more mistakes, fall, and sin than we care to admit. But in the end, there’s grace for you. I need that to be true because all of my hope rests on there being grace for me too.