In 1839 the English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase, the ‘pen is mightier than the sword’; and judging by the enthusiasm with which President Trump has been signing executive orders this week he wasn’t wrong. A few strokes of a pen and countless lives are changed forever.
Unlike Trump there’s not a single record of Jesus ever having written anything, with one exception. One day a woman caught in adultery was brought to him by an angry crowd baying for blood1. They wanted Jesus to agree with them that she should be stoned to death as the law demanded. While he considered their request, he bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. No one recorded what he wrote but when he stood up he suggested that if anyone in the crowd was perfect they could throw the first stone. Stopped in their tracks by this simple challenge the crowd soon melted away. Jesus wasn’t interested in catching people out in order to condemn them, but rather in reaching out with compassion in order to restore them.
In a world in which walls seem to be going up rather than coming down, we do well to remember that every human has equal value in the eyes of God, and that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as ourselves.