Flex: Christ's Cancel Culture
By George F. Borghardt
God saves sinners in Jesus. He saves people who don't deserve to be saved. He rescues the lost, the broken, and the bruised. He redeems those who can't save themselves and those who have given up trying.
That's how God is: He's slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love! The Father sent His Son into our world to save sinners! He finds them, redeems them, and buys them back. He saves sinners--idolators, misusers of His Name, despisers of His Word, those who dishonor their parents, murderers, haters, adulterers, fornicator, perverts, thieves, liars, gossips, and those who covet everything in sight. He even saved the greatest sinner--St. Paul (read what he says about himself in 1 Timothy 1:15).
The Religion of This World
The other gods of the world aren't like this. You've heard their message screamed at you. Their "priests" cancel your childhood heroes in the unforgiving anger and rage against injustices done in the past.
Their parables sound like this: A man has 100 sheep, one of whom gets himself lost in something hateful. The shepherd doesn't rescue him because he deserves exactly what he gets. A woman has ten coins and she loses one. Instead of looking for it, she examines the other coins and decides which ones she's going to throw out because of the unforgivable sins committed by the people engraved on them. (Check out Luke 15:1-10 to get the real story.)
To the world's religion, either you're in or you aren't, in which case you should consider yourself cancelled for all time. Sure, you can try to do penance, you can pay alms and kneel before their altars. But you can't undo what you've done. There's nothing you can do to make it better. One sin--perceived or real, big or small--and you are out for all time. There's no hope for redemption.
All of this is framed under some really good virtues: the ideas of treating everyone equally, giving justice under the law for all, loving everyone, and caring for those who are in need. We want those things, right? But the world's love only goes to those who agree to hate what the world hates, despise what it despises, and cancel whom it cancels. In the end, the world's love and open-mindedness extend only to those who agree with it. Failure to comply means you, too, will be cancelled.
So What's the Use?
And let's be clear: There's no room in Christianity for not loving anyone because of his or her color. There's no room for slavery. Remember that we, God's people, were slaves in Egypt and we were slaves to our sins. God has freed us from the chains of death itself. When Paul sends runaway slave Onesimus back to Philemon, his master, he encourages Philemon to free him because God sent His Son into our flesh to save us (Philemon 1:12-16).
To save you--that's what God is really about! He sends His Son to grab lost-sheep-you and throw you over His shoulder to rescue you from your lost-ness. He sweeps and cleans houses to find the lost pennies, lost-you-and-me, in order to bring us back to God.
For God wants to save sinners. He wants to save those who can't fix what they have done. The more sins, the bigger the Savior. That's not a challenge for you to sin more: How could you possibly sin more than you already do with all your thoughts, words, and deeds? (Romans 6:1-4) He took on your flesh to die for all of us, even for those like you and me who deserved to be cancelled by Him.
Christ Cancelled for You
And in Him, in His forgiveness, in the waters of your Baptism, in His Body and Blood, you are enlivened to repent and leave not only the idea of trying to sin more to get more forgiveness but also any desire to cancel anyone, to not forgive them, to hold anything against them, to judge and hate them, or to let them be dead to you.
Be warned, though: Those who live by the sword, who join this cancel culture and cancel others for their past sins, who refuse to show mercy and forgiveness to others, will find from God the same treatment as they deal out to others. You will be measured with the same measure you have used, on the Last Day (Matthew 7:2).
God is not about throwing you into a penalty box that you can't get yourself out of. God puts His own Son into a penalty box of hell and abandonment in order that you will never, ever be abandoned by Him. The only thing cancelled in this world is the sin of the world, for it died with Jesus. How on earth could you ever hold anyone's sins--past, present, or future--against them?
And that's the only answer to the religion of this world. The only solution for a world that allows no room for redemption. It's to step out of it and say, "I don't need your approval, world. I'm going with Jesus on this one. I deserve to be cancelled for my sins. But God cancelled His Son for me. I'm not going to hold sins against people. I was a lost sheep, a lost coin, and I've been found by Jesus. I'm going to forgive because the Lord saves sinners: like you, me, and everyone. My sins have been cancelled by Jesus. My neighbor's sins have been cancelled by Him, too!
Rev. George F. Borghardt is the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bossier City, Louisiana and serves as the president of Higher Things.
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