Monday, April 27, 2020

Acts 7.55-60: Glass Houses

If you are an architect, the most famous one is probably Philip Johnson's. But Ludwig Mies van der Rohe did one, too. If you saw the film The Lake House (2006) you saw one that was designed and built for the movie in a matter of weeks and then disassembled at the conclusion of filming. There was one for sale, designed by a student of  Mies. That's right, you could have been one of those people who lives in a glass house.
Mies van der Rohe. Farnsworth House (view toward the Fox River). 1951. Plano, IL
And if you were one of those people, you'd know the truth that people have known since Chaucer first wrote it: Who that hath an hed of verre, Fro cast of stones war hym in the werre! If  your Chaucerian English needs an assist: The man who has a head of glass, should beware of  throwing stones, when he goes to war.  Or, as the proverb has come to us: People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

The point, generally, is that you shouldn't criticize others for particular faults and/or weaknesses when you have the same faults or weaknesses. That seems to share some commonality with Jesus' comment when he comes across a woman who is about to be stoned after being charged with adultery (John 8:1-11): Whoever is without sin throw the first stone.

Of course Jesus is long gone when Stephen faces the stones in the hands of other people. I wonder if he had heard the story of Jesus and the woman. As his life is ending he prays that God will not hold this sin against those with rocks in their hands.

I also wonder what happened when Saul - by then Paul - heard the story about Jesus and the woman. I wonder if he thought of that day when he watched over the coats of the people who pummeled Stephen with rocks until he died. On the day, of course, he would have claimed that the killing of Stephen was not a sin.  But later, I wonder how he felt Jesus' words to the crowd that was ready and willing to stone that woman.

By then Paul understood that he was one of those people who lived in a glass house and had no business picking up a pebble, much less a rock. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. (I Timothy 1:15)

These days life might feel a lot like living in a glass house. We can see the outside, but we are removed from it. Life is happening out there, and we can see it, but we can't connect with it right now. It's worth remembering that everyone else is living in a glass house, too. So maybe we should keep our hands off the stones.

Is there a family resemblance? See thoughts about John 14:9 on Art&Faith Matters on Facebook.

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