Ten years ago I met Sharon. Not face to face. In fact, I have never seen her. She worked for a printing company in Illinois that helped publish some of my books. She was great to work with, helping finalize the lay out and look for my books. She did such a good job that she was promoted to a higher position in the company.
I had not heard from Sharon for several years. Recently, knowing that I wrote Christian books, she contacted me. She was going through a difficult divorce, a painful end to a difficult marriage. She was filled with shame and guilt, and moving to the small town in Illinois where she worked. She wanted to find a church that might help her, but she was terrified of the condemnation and rejection she might find. I tried to help her, encouraged her and prayed for her.
She wandered by a local church, liked the looks of it from the outside, and sought a personal visit with the pastor to explain what she was going through. It took courage for her to do that. She was afraid, but she found acceptance and support, and started to attend. A few weeks ago, she joined.
With much weeping, she shared what she was going through with her new found friends in a Bible study class, then, during worship, presented herself for membership in the church. She was surrounded by believers who hugged her and welcomed her. The pastor asked her to say a few words. She told the congregation she was going through a difficult trial. She said, “Then I talked about how worldwide the church is so good about making sure everyone knows John 3:16, which I quoted. I mentioned how that is good, but we need to keep going because John 3:17 says "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." I told them that the world has enough condemnation -- it needs more Jesus.”
Jesus maintained a high bar for marriage. “What God has joined together,” He said, “ let not man put asunder.” But whenever he encountered people who were broken and wounded he always responded with compassion and redemption. When a woman was caught in adultery and thrown at his feet, he challenged her accusers. “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Convicted by their guilt, the crowd melted away. Turning to the woman, Jesus asked, “ Does no one condemn you?” She replied, “No one, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11).
We need to do all we can to help every marriage survive and thrive. But divorce is a reality in our world. Most, if not all, of our families have been affected by it. We need to embrace and help those whose dreams have been shattered. Like Sharon said, the world needs less judgment and more Jesus.