I’m human, so everything I say in here probably won’t be right, but I surely hope it’s pointed in the right direction relative to the Heart of God and His compassion on people. I am by no means justifying evil actions, only advocating for a Heart posture that mirrors that of God’s Grace and Mercy toward everyone, not just those we as people believe are forgivable or otherwise.
I absolutely abhor cancel culture.
Of all the things that the Church should have absolutely nothing to do with, cancel culture finds itself solidly on that list.
We LOVE to think we know what’s best for punishing people, which is unbelievably ridiculous. Cancel culture is insane because all that cancel culture does is point out that people are human. That’s all it’s doing—taking big flashing lights and saying, “YOU’RE HUMAN.”
Now, I don’t want to talk about the things cancel culture itself often impacts, I want to talk about the heart posture behind cancel culture—it is a heart posture that frowns on Redemption and does away with Forgiveness and Grace.
We forget who Saul was before he became Paul, we forget that Peter denied Christ over and over again, we forget that member of ISIS are encountering Jesus in dreams and that human traffickers are being pursued by the Love of God too. I’m not saying people should not receive consequences for their actions—they absolutely should. What I am saying is that we, as human beings with a limited perspective and capacity for understanding, have no right to tell someone they don’t deserve to be loved or valued anymore because of something they’ve done, either presently or in the past. We are not God, and thank God for that, so we should really stop acting like we are.
One of my favorite stories to point out when it comes to deciding people’s worthiness for them is Jeffery Dahmer’s. Don’t freak out, though, this isn’t some creepy story—just a reminder that he became a believer in prison. God never canceled him—God never said his murdering and psychopathy were too far gone for the Cross to cover. He still died behind bars and had to serve time and deal with the consequences of his actions, but he was not too far beyond the reach of the Love of Christ. We don’t get to discount someone’s humanity because their actions are immoral.
I think about people like Jeffery Epstein. An awful man who did awful things to a lot of other people—he raped hundreds of children and helped his friends to do the same. Countless people’s lives were ruined by his, and yet, God’s heart grieved for Epstein, even as he committed evil beyond our comprehension.
“Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The Will of God for ALL PEOPLE TO COME TO HIM doesn’t rule out the greatest of evil people in our world. God loves and desires the hearts of the most heinous of murderers, dictators, and deceivers among humankind, as He does you and I.
If reading that makes you angry at me for even daring to say people like that have access to forgiveness, angry at God maybe, for being so merciful to such horrible people, there is a further step you must take into the Love of Christ. You are not God, I am not God—we don’t get to have a say in how His mercy works.
We forget that Paul was the equivalent of Osama bin Laden, the way he attacked and persecuted the Church before Jesus met him on that fateful journey to Damascus. We don’t get to rule people out based on their actions, past or present.
People rejoiced at the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and I just remember my heart feeling uneasy about the happiness that seemed to envelop the country. A soul was lost—a battle in this great spiritual war was lost. A human being was forever separated from the Presence. Even as I write this I mourn because we are so quick to establish our own ideas of who deserves to be saved, and we forget that behind the tragic, evil actions of many, there is a soul that God longs for in a manner so unrelenting we would die to get even close to the pain He experiences at its loss.
Now, am I saying he shouldn’t have been assassinated? I cannot tell you, I’m not God. However, he did have to face consequences, and his consequence was death. He was a major threat to the world, and as such was dealt a consequence that matched his actions.
But even when people pay the price for their actions with what, I believe, is well-deserved death, that doesn’t mean the Heart of God isn’t greatly grieved.
“No soul is too far gone for God to bring back. No heart is too hard for God to soften. No son or daughter is too lost for God to rescue.” (Francis Chan)
I like to often remind others, and myself, that we will probably find ourselves quite surprised at who we see in Heaven—people we wish we could ourselves damn to Hell. People we believe should be beyond the reach of Christ. There will be Nazis who were saved, murders who were redeemed, jihadists who encountered Messiah—the worst of the worst, some of them will be there because God’s redemptive power doesn’t stop at a certain sin. We act like there’s a line in the sand that WE have the power to draw and determine. As if we can say, “You can go this far, but once you cross this line, you are beyond saving.” Which is funny, because last time I checked, the brutal sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross was enough to cover it all—not just what you think is within the realm of “okay to forgive.”
If the worst of the worst is too far gone, who’s to say you’re not? If there really is a “line to be crossed” that determines whether or not you’re worthy of salvation, how do you know you haven’t crossed it?
If cancel culture was anything in Kingdom Culture, we all would’ve been canceled and cast out a long time ago. I want you to lay down your self-righteousness for a second as you read this next thing: Who are you to say, if you had been born to a ranking Nazi official in WWII-era Germany, that you wouldn’t have been a supporter of Hitler? And don’t give me all the “I would have fought against my family” crap—quit acting like your so much better than the millions of people who sided with the Nazi party. Yes, there were people who fought back, and I pray to God that I would have been one of those people, but also, think of where you are right now—how many of your beliefs and experiences are shaped by your family and childhood? Think of how you act, believe, and relate to others. And don’t ever tell me you’re a better, more righteous human being than those other people who grew up in an environment saturated with racism, eugenics, and disillusionment about power and restoration. Man is inherently evil, so why would we be so arrogant as to believe we are better than the entire rest of mankind. Our own beliefs that we are so much better than everyone we believe to be irredeemably immoral is pride doing the most dangerous thing it ever could.
The other day, my pastor said something to the tune of: The problem with the world isn’t that there are too many bad people; it’s that there are too many people who believe they’re good.
If we are going to declare the reckless, radical Love of a Savior like none other, we best believe His ideas of Mercy and Justice are nothing like ours at all. In fact, He is waiting as long as possible to allow as many as possible to come into repentance. ” The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV)
That’s why I get so uneasy about believers talking about Jesus coming back right this minute—that this whole worldwide pandemic and all the immorality of our modern society are signs pointing to the end times. Well, here’s a little news for you: we’ve been in the end times since Jesus ascended, and if you even do just a little bit of research about ancient Greece and Rome, you’ll find that many of the things we say are so horrible and much worse than ever before in history are about the same as they were 2000 years ago. Jesus’s Heart is for everyone to be saved. And everyone includes the worst of the worst. Everyone includes the abusers, murders, liars, manipulators, the list goes on, are you getting my point?
We don’t get to decide who gets saved and who doesn’t. We don’t get to say this person is too far gone while this person is not. Last time I checked, the radical Love of God has never discounted or disqualified any of us from His Saving Grace. Quit trying to play God, pray instead. Mourn for those God mourns for—because I guarantee, if you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His, you’ll be surprised by who you feel led to mourn over and pray for.
“…there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:17)
Have we forgotten that this war we are in, this fight for souls and salvation, it’s not against flesh and blood? It’s not against the people we see around us but the evil they allow to reside within themselves? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
If this all seems to radical to you, I’d encourage you to read the Bible, read the things Jesus has said, the things the forefathers of our Faith were forgiven for, the things Paul radically declares.
Better yet, read Jonah. God had unbelievable Grace on a 120,000-person city that was filled with unspeakable abominations that certainly included what we would consider the most heinous acts of our day. And God had Mercy, and Jonah was angry about the Mercy of God.
“When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ But the Lord replied, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’” (Jonah 3:10-4:4)
If God so saved a city filled with immorality and evil, who are we to say that one person wrought with sin cannot be saved by the Merciful Hand of God?
This is not some far-fetched ridiculous idea—this is Grace. This is the Compassion of God that we cannot even begin to comprehend in its fullness.