There is a story about casting stones. Remembering it helped me at a time when someone who had stayed with me decided to take advantage of the situation. He and a friend attempted to take some of my furniture. I strongly objected to this - and said to him, "If there is anything that belongs to you here, take it." Well, nothing belonged to him. And without a word, they stopped everything and hurriedly left.
A stand for truth is a stand with God, who is infinite Truth. Error or wrong-doing, the opposite of Truth, may appear to be real and powerful. But like the darkness, it vanishes at the appearance of the light. "Error is a coward before Truth" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 368). God is the Almighty. Our appeals to Truth are appeals to His all-power.
But what has this got to do with casting stones? The example I thought of involves what Jesus Christ proved when pressed to render judgment on a woman. To all appearances, she was guilty of breaking the commandment "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14). According to the Mosaic law, she could be stoned to death for this. Her accusers were challenging Jesus, who had been preaching a message of repentance, forgiveness, and love.
The book of John in the Bible says, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Jesus had a deep sense of both God's justice and His mercy. And he showed the corrective power of this understanding in human lives.
That day, Jesus simply said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." The Bible continues, "And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst" (John 8:7, 9).
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment," said Jesus at another time (John 7:24). If our concept of our fellow beings is based only on material appearance, we always see sinners instead of the perfect child of God. But "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals," says Science and Health. "In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy" (Pgs. 476-477).
Jesus showed how to worship God and heal. He demonstrated keen spiritual discernment that solved the problem of a sinful woman and self-righteous accusers. He caused them all to rethink their actions. And his lesson is the same for us today. In God's creation - the real universe in which we all exist now as His spiritual image - there is no sinful person and no sin. Divine Love is the only power.
We find solutions to the problems of human existence, and spiritual strength to stop sinning, in proportion as we discern spiritual reality. Fundamentally, this discernment involves knowing so deeply what is true of God and His perfect creation that it becomes natural to correct, mentally, whatever we see that is wrong. To deny evil any power on the basis that Truth, God, is the only power. To turn to God for direction in how to correct and heal situations, instead of casting stones of angry judgment.
Jesus' success in healing was due to his constant acknowledgment of God's omnipotence. He rebuked evil sharply: "Get behind me, Satan!" (Revised Standard Version, Matt. 16:23). Satan is just a name for the lie that God is not All. This lie engenders negative thoughts like resentment, envy, or pride, which tarnish our views of ourselves and others as created by God - sinless.
The lesson of casting stones is that, when tempted to condemn someone (justly or unjustly), we can drop our arsenal of accusations and examine ourselves. See if there are any stony sins we are harboring, including false beliefs that evil has power. We first cast those away, thereby to gain a healing view of how God made us to be.
You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, at www.tfccs.com.