MERCY IN THE MESS

Guest writer Erin Ursel shares the importance of being able to walk women through messy situations with the mercy and grace exemplified by Jesus.

Guest Contributor:  Erin Ursel

One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld is when George gets a toupee and Elaine hates it. She hates George’s cocky attitude and she thinks he looks ridiculous. This conflict comes to a head when Elaine, who at this point is completely exasperated with George, wrestles the wig off his head, and just before throwing it out of Jerry’s apartment window onto the street below, yells, “I hate this thing and here’s what I’m doing with it!.

I see a lot of myself in this scene. This is probably the most natural way for me to respond to things that are wrong, or when I don’t like or agree with something and I try to take it into my own hands.

In John 4:1-42 and John 8:1-11 we see two beautiful exchanges between Jesus and two women, specifically when confronting their sin. Unlike Elaine or myself, He doesn’t yell, scream, shame or belittle them, but rather in truth and gentleness as only Christ can do, He shows them patience, grace, kindness, love and respect.

The thing I notice in both cases is that He doesn’t avoid addressing their sin, but there is a lot more going on in the text than calling them out because of it. In both cases He is clear there is an issue of sin. We know how important it is for our sin to be identified, otherwise we couldn’t repent of it, receive the forgiveness we need, and understand what changes need to be made. This is critical, but even more important to note here is that the gospel is central, not the sin.

With the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He speaks far more about the hope and life He gives than what will cause her death. Only at the end of the story in John 8, does He call the woman caught in adultery to repentance after He had shown her mercy at the hands of her accusers.

This is how Jesus is with me and my sin. He speaks to me with grace and love, reminding me who He is and who I am and inviting me into a relationship with Him. My sin is never acceptable but neither is it central - He is. What He has done for me is central to the story of my life. My sin debt was paid in full when I accepted His invitation, repented and turned from my sin, and received His righteousness for my shame (2 Cor 5:21). Which is something I continue to need to do every single day.

So, because of the grace God has shown me, I can walk through some very messy stories with the extraordinary women that God brings into my life. I can love, as I have been loved, and show acceptance and respect, as I help them identify their sin and point them to Jesus who invites them to repentance and relationship with Him.

Unlike Jesus, in John 4 & 8, I can’t offer anything within myself that can save but I can point you to the work and person of Jesus Christ who redeems, rescues and saves all things. It makes my natural (and sinful) predisposition to judge or criticize a lot easier to forego. It’s a big burden to be a judge, to tell people what to do and to fix everyone – so, it’s a good thing that’s not what I’m called to do.

I am less afraid to get messy with others because I have a Savior who chose to get messy with me. He rescued me from the darkest places and gave me love, acceptance, and forgiveness (Rom 5:8-9). As leaders, we can’t ever forget the price that was paid for us – a price we can never repay. Let’s keep Christ central to the story of our lives and the lives of those entrusted to us.

By Erin Ursel

Erin and her husband have been married for 25 years. Together they have two amazing young adult children. Erin’s desire is to see women grow in their understanding and application of God’s word, which has brought her truth and freedom from a life of fear and shame. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the servant of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16-17.  Elaine from Seinfeld is Erin's personal hero.

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SAVE THE DATE     |     Leverage is hosting a retreat for women in leadership October 17-19 2018. 

In preparation of the upcoming retreat, keep checking in for special  blog posts on the three pillars of leading well: PLAN-PRAY-PLAY

Anna Koehn