This morning I have been thinking about the story in our Bible Lesson concerning the woman taken in adultery. It is clear that the scribes and Pharisees had been watching her activities and waited until the right moment to 'arrest' her. Although the law about commiting adultery said both parties should be stoned, they did not bring the man when they took her to Jesus. They were clearly trying to put him in a situation where he would be forced to say something incriminating. Then they could accuse him of a crime and they could discredit him before his followers.
Jesus was not so easily trapped. He just stoops down and doodles in the dust. We'd love to know what he wrote but that is not recorded. They continued to badger him for an answer, Moses says we should stone her but what do you say? I love the fact that he 'lifted up himself' before answering them. That is the response we all would like when we are faced with those who would attempt to trap us, badgering us about something. He lifted himself up above the material picture and gave an inspired answer. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Brilliant. Brillaint because it shifted the attention away from the woman's sin to their own actions. And faced with this simple invitation, 'being convicted by their own conscience' they left the scene.
Jesus was left alone. They left him alone, they stopped badgering him. Their plot had failed and their own sin had been exposed. Jesus was innocent and they couldn't succeed in their attempt to humiliate him. Error never succeeds. We can and should always turn away from the confrontations that it tries to cause. God, good, is the only cause, and good is the only effect. Jesus brought healing to that event, healing not only the woman who had been committing sin when he said, "neither do I accuse thee", but causing those men to see the sin they were committing and to change their thought, to cease that action.
He tells her to go and sin no more and hopefully those men got the same message. We cannot just sin and be sorry. When we come to see that we have sinned, chosen to believe that we can be seperate from God, we must not just apologize to Him, we must be sure we do not repeat the offense. This is being un-self-ish, not just unselfish. We need to understand our true selfhood and claim it and demonstrate it. Every day. That is practical repentance. And every time we make this conscious choice, it gets easier. Our efforts are crowned with success.
I love the movie "Up". In it, the dogs are occasionally punished by having to wear the 'cone of shame', a cone around their head. I also love "Despicable Me" where the little girls, punished by the woman who runs the orphanage, are made to spend time in the 'box of shame'. When one makes a mistake, that is a very uncomfortable way to atone. Much better to tell God we are sorry and to not repeat the offense. Mrs. Eddy says we 'need only to turn from sin and lost sight of selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship'. Our true divine nature.
Choose today, should you become aware of some sinful suggestions about yourself or someone else, not to end up wearing the cone of shame (can't you just imagine that for those men) or in the box of shame. Repent, change your thinking and actions to be in accord with your true divine nature.