I will return with my second installment on my Favorite Movie list, but first I want to offer a brief rumination that occurred to me while my wife and I were enjoying some pre-turkey relaxation out in our new screen porch.
The Gospel story from John 8:1-11 is well known by most Christians. The story were Jesus intervenes in the stoning of a woman (who I believe to be Mary Magdalene) caught in the act of adultery. My focus is on the words Jesus said to the would be death squad: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” He didn’t display any miraculous delivery here; no blinding light, no onrushing wind, nor did He blast the woman’s accusers out of existence, and Jesus could easily have done that. But what He did do is this: He appealed to their individual consciences. As I shared this same story with my wife, I added, “Now that is a man who knows his audience!” It was a move both bold and courageous and Christ made it.
It is the details of salvation that elude me, at times. This is one of those details. It’s very easy to skip over how gently and smoothly Jesus quieted that murderous mob, but He did it with His word, not with a display of pyrotechnical power. Another question: Would the conscience tactic work today? Tough question! Not to overstate the case, but our current collective moral radar has been more than a little haywire for a long time. Are we living in those days that St. Paul spoke of to Timothy when he wrote: ” …in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences” (1 Tim.4:1,2)? St. Paul also warned Titus about those with defective consciences, ” To the clean all things are clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean; in fact, both their minds and their consciences are tainted” (Titus1:15). If our inner rudder isn’t working like it should, our whole life will run aground before long.
As a corrective, and so as not to give you indigestion while you forage over your choice morsels, I offer the delectable dessert of a clean conscience. St. Robert Southwell, a Catholic man during times of intense persecution in 16th Century England, and a martyr, said this about that value of a good conscience: “My conscience is my crown; contented thoughts my rest; my heart is happy in itself; my bliss is in my breast.”
These are the days that will try many on account of their faith or lack thereof. May a good conscience attend you all the way through your Thanksgiving meal and beyond! Let’s dig in!