Yet when I read the Bible, I see Jesus disrespecting the distance. He loved to close gaps. Instead of walking away, He would walk towards the company of so-called bad people.
Perhaps this is nowhere better illustrated than when a woman caught in adultery was brought to the church-house. While Jesus was teaching, religious leaders interrupted him. In an attempt to shame a sinning woman and, at the same time, put Jesus in a difficult situation, this woman was forced into a circle of shame. She stood there alone, guilty, embarrassed, frightened, and ashamed.
Instead of joining the mob, Jesus embarrassed the mob. He pointed out their own lack of perfection and challenged their authority to carry out her sentence. After those who attempted to shame here were gone, Jesus closed the distance. He stood near her and reminded her that she was created for more than that. He literally told her to “go and sin no more.”
He was not afraid of her. He did not run from her. He closed the distance and stood up for her.
This was not the first time and it would not be the last time. Jesus was always speaking to someone he was not expected to speak with. He ate with the wrong people. Walked with the wrong people. Befriended the wrong people. Even touched the wrong people.
While we have to be wise and hold tightly to our identity as followers of Jesus, we have no choice but to close the gap. We cannot show mercy and give life from a distance. We must draw close.
Our reputations may take hits. Our limits may be tested. But Jesus was accused. And Jesus’ second chances were sometimes abused.
Jesus said, “As I have been sent. So I send you.”