Thursday, January 3, 2019

Expectations for an Adultress

I have a friend who lived something of a carefree life during what would have been his college years if he had gone to college. He sowed his wild oats and had lots of fun. One day, he found out he had a child, and everything changed. Suddenly, he had someone who counted on him, someone who expected him to be responsible and to take care of her. He rose to the challenge and became one of the most responsible, most stable men I knew. He always had it in him but it came out when someone expected something from him.

Last time, we looked at how Jesus refused to play the Pharisees' game with the woman caught in the act of committing adultery, but the story didn't end there. After Jesus turned the tables on them, agreeing to stone her only if the first stone was thrown by someone who was sinless, Jesus was left alone with the woman. He asked her if anyone had condemned her and she responded that no one had. Jesus then added, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on do not sin anymore" (John 8:11, HCSB). Having just saved this woman and having refused to condemn her himself, it is easy for me to hear the tone in Jesus's voice in my imagination. Jesus does not speak to her in disgust or in disappointment but in expectation. "Go and from now on do not sin anymore." With that statement Jesus gave this woman caught in adultery something no one else seemed willing to give her: expectations.

In my work with students through the years, I have learned that students tend to give you what you expect of them. There are always exceptions, but in general students behave the way you expect them to.  If you expect them to be disrespectful, they behave disrespectfully. If you expect them to behave like responsible adults, they eventually do. Expectations are a statement of belief in a person, one way or another. Jesus understood this and he gave this adulteress high expectations. Without condemning her, Jesus expected more from her.

Sometimes we are really good at expecting things from people; we just expect the wrong things. Too often, we expect people to fail. We expect people to let us down. We expect people to go on with their lives, never living up to their potential. And we normally get what we expect. What would happen if we expected more from people, without reminding them of their failures by flavoring our expectations with condemnation? How would people change if we expected more from them, like what that unknowing little girl expected from her daddy?

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