As a 5th grader I had a tendency to slouch in class. I liked to slide back in my chair and sit in a reclined position. It felt more comfortable there, and I thought it made me look cool. My teacher did not think my posture was very cool. I told her that I could learn from that position, but she always told me to sit up straight. Though my words said I was ready to learn, my posture communicated something else.
Often, our posture communicates more than our words. If you’re married you know this to be true. Your spouse might say, “Nothing is bothering me,” but the crossed arms and cold glance might communicate something entirely different.
I often wonder how the posture of the American church adversely affects our mission. We say that we love others and that we are “all about grace,” but is that what our posture is saying?
In John 8 we find one of the most shocking stories from the life of Christ. A woman had been caught in the act of adultery and was brought before Jesus. The posture of the teachers and Pharisees communicated condemnation. They stood above her, holding stones, ready to surge forward and execute judgment. The posture of Jesus was quite different. He was gentle. He stooped down to the ground, closer to the woman’s vantage point. Through his actions, he let her know that he was not going to condemn her. It makes me wonder. When Christians encounter broken people today do we behave more like the teachers and Pharisees or like Christ?
Please do not mistake Jesus’ graceful actions as permissiveness. He forgave the woman, but he loved her too much to let her stay where she was. His final words to her communicated his desire to see transformation in her life. He said, “Go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). In this story, extravagant grace, gentleness, and compassion preceded the invitation for behavioral change.
May we be people who emulate the posture of Christ. May we extend grace, gentleness, and compassion. May we embody the Good News in our communities, so that others see Christ in us. May we be the people that others seek out when they are in crisis, because they know that we love them and will advocate for them. Perhaps this will help us share God’s Truth more effectively.