Lines in the Sand
In the book Iron John by Robert Bly, he describes a certain man with this observation:
“Unless he has an enemy, he isn’t sure that he is alive.”
Too often, we are defined by our enemies. We are defined by what we are against. When we are defined by what we are against, what we are for gets lost in the noise or, turned into an offensive sound bite. So, what if we were defined by what we are for?
In the song You and Your Heart, Jack Johnson writes,
“You draw so many lines in the sand, lost the fingernails on your hand. “
That’s a brilliant lyric that leaves me asking, “Where did the dirt under my fingernails come from and why is the polish on your index finger chipped?”
There is a famous story from Jesus’ life about the Pharisees, the etch-a-sketchers of moral boundaries, catching a woman in the middle of the act of stepping “out of bounds”. So, they seized the opportunity and decided to continue the pattern of this woman being used by men. They brought her to Jesus as bait for a trap without any regard for her shame or her life. They were only interested in destroying their political and religious enemy even if that meant killing her in the name of their religion. Sounds amazingly contemporary I think.
But, what does Jesus do when he sees them coming? He draws in the dirt. Why? because he didn’t have a cell phone to pretend he was texting on. To me, his drawing in the dirt is the first century equivalent of looking at your phone when someone is talking to you. His body language screams “I’m just waiting for you to close your mouth!”
When the Pharisees finished pontificating and Jesus stood up and dusted the dirt off of his hands, what did they see in the dirt? A line. They stood on one side and Jesus and the woman caught in adultery stood on the other.
The line defined the Pharisees by what they were against and Jesus by what he was for.