Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: Go and sin no more. John 8:11
“How does your church feel about single parents?”
This was the first question asked Brother Mark Lemke of Metro Ministries in Vancouver, B.C., by Lori who was the single parent of Bianca, her five-year old daughter and David, her two-month old son.
Brother Lemke replied, “We love them and are here to be a strength and help to them”. She was greatly relieved to learn this, as she went on to explain that she was made to feel condemned for her past mistakes in several churches.
Our hurting world surely needs hope and help! We have a wonderful message of forgiveness, remission and deliverance from sin.
We are not in the condemning business. Yes! We hate sin – but we love the sinner. We are a hospital for hurting humanity. The Church is not a hotel for perfect people.
Parent, this single parent may be your child – and you are no doubt disappointed and hurt – but you must forgive and accept this hurting young parent. Many times it is easier to forgive the stranger than your own child.
The father of the prodigal son did not condemn his son when he returned. He did not even ask for an accounting of the wasted inheritance. He never asked if he had led an immoral lifestyle – or whether he had to send child support back to someone in the ‘far country’ – he just opened his arms and loved him. The father never made excuses for his son’s behavior nor justified this behavior, but he accepted him – just as he was. It is interesting that the eldest son had a very different attitude.
Jesus entered into the synagogue, one day, and they handed Him the book. [Thank God for The Book!] Jesus read from the 61st chapter of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book” Luke 4:18-20.
I am so glad that He closed the book – He stopped just short of the phrase, “And the vengeance of our God”. There will be a day of judgment, but today God is showing mercy and is in the saving ministry.
On another day we see this loving Physician ministering to a hurting woman. The Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. [Where was the man?] They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The Law Moses commands us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?”
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Jesus. Without a word, 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, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Her accusers began to slip 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.” John 8: 3-11 NIV
As a church we must stand for holiness and must keep our standards high. We must take a stand against adultery, divorce and abortion – all due to sin and selfishness. However, when hurting humanity comes to us we do not have to accept the sin – but we can love the sinner.
When this situation came into my own family, my wife and I were hurt and ashamed. We had the choice of walking away from our son – who had walked away from us and from God – or to open our arms and our hearts to him and to his new family. We chose the road of restoration and he is now married and part of our loving family once again. He was angry and bitter against God and some members of the church – but now he is tender and we believe he is ready to repair his relationship with his God and those who hurt him. He knew we did not accept his lifestyle, but he also knew that we loved him – unconditionally.
Single parenting can also happen through abandonment. Hagar was a hurting single parent – due to no fault of her own. She had no control of her circumstances. She found herself thrown out with a loaf of bread and a jug of water – with a son to support. When the modern day hurting ‘Hagars’ come back to us – our approach must be the same as Jesus would:
“We will not abandon you – Let us minister to you.”
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