Have you ever felt judged by someone you’ve never met?
I was recently invited to speak at a women’s event and share my experience of helping women in the Red Light Area. As I looked in the crowd I saw many heads nodding in agreement at this question. Being judged on your outward appearance is not unique. It is something we have all felt at one time in our life!
Now imagine yourself in a world where judgments like this are a daily event.
It is late at night, you are alone, cold, hungry, you’re jittery and itching all over your body. You wished you could sleep but you can’t keep still. Your skin is red raw with the constant scratching and you’re dizzy with the fierce pain in your head. It is excruciating and there is nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.
You can no longer bear it you have to do the one thing you dread the most but works the best. Heroin. You look at the dark circles under your eyes and your sunken brow and you say to yourself, ok just one more time.
You don’t want to do it as you hate how dirty worthless and disgusted it makes you feel but you know if you just shut out reality you can get through it and then your pain and aching will soon be gone.
You look at your body and you see how skinny and pale you’ve become. You try to remember when you last ate a hot meal but you struggle to remember past this morning.
You pull out the only personal possession you own in this world, a photograph of your 2 children aged just 3 and 5. You try desperately every day to keep their memory alive, as they were taken from you over 12 months ago and you’ve not seen them since. You kiss them good night and you walk out the door.
Alone in a dark place rejected by the world and deprived of true love you think to yourself “I hate who I’ve become, I’m trapped with no way out!”.
At that moment a car pulls up and four men are hanging out the windows jeering and shouting accusations and before you know it you hear a loud crack as eggs are thrown at your skull and start pouring down your face. The men accelerate away with an ear piercing laughter that fills the streets. While you pause for a moment in complete shock before you quickly search your pockets for a tissue. You see a serviette on the floor from a discarded happy meal. You wipe the egg from around your face, reapply your lipstick and think “Is this what’s become of me?”
There were many times I would stop to a girl on the street on our weekly outreach only to find her covered from head to foot in eggs that have been forcibly thrown at her from a passing car.
Men she had never met who didn’t even know her name, used her for target practice.
They are the most stigmatized women I have ever known. Labelled, prostitute, hooker and whore. She is viewed as a welcomed target of abuse, a toy to have fun with and a target to practice your aim on and the worse thing is, guys get a kick out of it and just do it for the sake of fun.
What has our world become that this has become a sport?
I have just painted a picture for you of a very real scenario of the same scene we read about in John Ch 8, this same behaviour was happening in Jesus’ time too.
The religious people had dragged a woman caught in the act of adultery into the temple to be publicly punished and humiliated. She had disrespected their laws and she needed to be made an example of.
They were armed ready with stones to throw at her, when Jesus heroically steps in.
He ignores all their accusations, he doesn’t even listen to their arguments he simply gets on his knees and writes in the sand.
His response seemed strange with no explanation, was he ignoring the issue hoping it would go away?
All eyes are on Jesus wondering what he was going to do next?
After a long awkward silence Jesus eventually stands up and looks in the eyes of her accusers and says “Let he who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.”
The Bible doesn’t actually tell us what Jesus wrote in the sand that day but I could imagine that he wrote out the sins of every person present in that place.
They one by one dropped their stones and quickly left.
Jesus had made it clear that anyone who throws stones at others are really throwing them at themselves.
Matthew 7:3 in the Message Bible says
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour.
The word “Prostitute” receives so many negative responses. Perhaps you’ve thought them yourself but let’s be reminded today that Jesus had a very special grace for women like Mary Magdalene.
What the world degraded Jesus elevated, whom the religious rejected Christ accepted.
The challenge for us today is to consider our ways are we the ones holding the eggs? We may not be aiming them at women in Prostitution but are we aiming them at others in our world? How are you with your spouse? your neighbour? your colleagues? Or even our government?
The only way to ensure you’re not the one with egg on your face is to not be the one throwing them.