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No Better Moment (Gone with the Wind)

The eighth chapter of the gospel of John opens with the story of a woman who was brought to Jesus after having been caught in the act of adultery.  Her guilt was not under question, just her punishment.  After those who brought her to Him spoke, Jesus knelt down and scratched out some words in the sand.  But the woman’s accusers kept pressing the issue, wanting Him to commit one way or the other.  Finally He stood and spoke a simple one sentence sermon.  Then He knelt back down and wrote some more in the sand while they walked away one by one.  When her accusers were gone, He told the woman He didn’t condemn her, go and be a better person.  His actions and words dissolved her guilt and shame.  We know nothing more about the woman but I’m sure of this - there was no better moment in her life than the moment when Jesus stood for her.


Scarlett O’Hara is a rich, spoiled, southern belle in the classic movie adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.  As a result of the Civil War she becomes a poor, spoiled, southern belle.  After the war she throws in with the carpetbaggers and other opportunists and finds her way to riches again.  Still, she’s not happy.  The self-absorbed Scarlett can’t be happy if there’s anything she can’t have and for the better part of the movie that anything is Ashley Wilkes, the husband of her best friend, Melanie.


Scarlett and Ashley share an innocent (if unwise) hug one afternoon at the sawmill Scarlett owns.  They are seen by others and within hours word is all over Atlanta.  To compound matters, Melanie is throwing a surprise birthday party for Ashley that evening.  Scarlett doesn’t want to go.  She knows that everyone there will have heard about what happened between her and Ashley.  She especially doesn’t want to face Melanie because she knows the pain she has caused her. 


She is forced to go however by her husband, who unceremoniously leaves her at the door.  When she enters, the noise and laughter of the party come to a sudden halt.  Everyone looks at Scarlett and wonders what Melanie will do.  Scarlett waits apprehensively.  Though the hug at the sawmill was innocent enough, she knows her love for Ashley has been a betrayal of her friend.  She is deeply ashamed and knows she is not only undeserving of Melanie’s friendship but unworthy to be in her home.  She is prepared for the worst.


But that’s not what happens.  Instead, Melanie greets her warmly and enlists her help in welcoming the guests.  This means that no one can shun Scarlett without also shunning Melanie.  By identifying herself with Scarlett in this manner, Melanie takes away Scarlett’s guilt and shame and gives her the opportunity to be a better person.  There’s no better moment in the movie than when Melanie stands for Scarlett. 


To live as the body of Christ in this world means to stand for those who need someone to stand for them.  You’ll have no better moment.  Blessed are the merciful.


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