Stay or Go?

Christy at Dry Bones Dance (via Raw Faith) posted an interesting comment on the story about the woman accused of adultery by the Pharisees in John 8. This is where Jesus says the famous line, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I’ve been mulling it over, and I think I’ve figured out what the real difference is between the woman they caught and the Pharisees. It’s not attitude or self-righteousness or biblical knowledge or type of sin. The big difference is this: The Pharisees walked away. (Jesus didn’t ask anyone to leave. He just didn’t want them to throw stuff.) The woman stayed.

Ah! The beauty of Biblical stories. They always bring forth new levels of meaning and understanding. Christy further comments on this aspect of this story with:

Simone Weil once said that Christianity is a religion of waiting for God. We wait, and God shows up. When God does, our only job is to stay.

I do not think that was Weil’s original intent for his comment, but it does apply in this situation. All of this reminds me of something I read about grace. There are two types of grace, sanctifying grace and actual grace.

Sanctifying grace stays in the soul. It’s what makes the soul holy; it gives the soul supernatural life. More properly, it is supernatural life.

Actual grace, by contrast, is a supernatural push or encouragement. It’s transient. It doesn’t live in the soul, but acts on the soul from the outside, so to speak. It’s a supernatural kick in the pants. It gets the will and intellect moving so we can seek out and keep sanctifying grace.

God calls us, comes to us, in actual grace. Thomas Merton may have said it best with:

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.

Christy’s comments reminds us that we cannot find God on our own. He must call us. Grace is always calling us to choose to turn toward God. The question becomes whether or not you are listening for His call. Is the noise of the world, of your heart, of the Enemy, too much to hear it? And if you do hear the call, do you stay like the accused, broken woman in humility, or walk away like the Pharisees in their self-conceit and wounded pride?

As the saints always seem to ask, whose will are you going to follow, yours or God’s? I guess that ultimately determines whether you stay or walk away.

See more quotes on grace.

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