The power of redemption

Every few weeks there seems to be a new revelation unearthed about some past foible involving a politician, media star or some other public persona.

That heralded nasty deed, human failure or simple stupid judgment becomes raw meat for pundits and an affirmation of all the worst imaginings about the hapless soul who has dirt from their past excavated.

In some cases, the deeds of a prior era actually are footprints to actions and twisted values of the present and should be exposed.

But not in all cases.

In some cases the evils or foolishness now on display actually show the power of redemption.

I live and breathe in an atmosphere of redemption. Most of the people whom are my most trusted and loyal friends have shameful pasts. Some have been in prison, or should have been. Some have dealt with people as if they were pawns to abuse. Some have been thieves, liars, dealers, addicts and sexual predators. Some had a history of woefully foolish choices and created havoc in the lives of others.

But they are that no longer. They are new people, washed clean, unstained.

And they are humble. They understand the built-in gravity pull of all human beings towards evils of every kind, and they also understand the severe gifts of guilt, shame and consequences that God uses to pull them back towards Himself.

Every one of my friends knows that there could be gathered a crowd of witnesses, some with damning evidence, who could join in a chorus of condemnation about their past deeds. And they would, without excuse, agree with them, but offer one caveat; “I was lost, but now I am found; I was blind but now I see.”

Two thousand years ago the self-righteous pundits of the day found a collection of the town’s ill-reputed characters sharing a meal with a popular itinerant preacher, and they too were outraged.

Had they had cell phones they would have documented the travesty and the evening news would have been quick to connect the dots between slimy company and the self-proclaimed messianic figure that was now disgraced.

But they would have got it wrong. They would have failed to understand the power of redemption. In their own bent desire to destroy a reputation they would not have sensed that the air in that dining room wasn’t full of the putrid breath of foul men and women but rather the cleansing breath of redemption Himself. It was His whole point as He stated, “I not here for the righteous, but for the sinners.”

In our overheated, accusing environment, perhaps we have forgotten that it is possible for people to be transformed, to become new people, to make a 180-degree turn.

Perhaps the attack mode of culture serves as a diversion so that we foam and froth over the past sins of others and don’t have to come to grips with our own smeared past.

Maybe we should join the former reprobates at the party and breathe some of the air of redemption ourselves. It just may slow down our cultural finger-pointing.


Rick Bundschuh is a pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship in Poipu.

  1. gordon oswald February 14, 2019 8:10 am Reply

    Thank you Rick. Great letter, and perfectly understood in a world of equality and a level playing field! The main problem is that with the dirty, filthy business of “Politics” and “Celebrity fame” both Parties need to be held accountable to the same standards of behavior. One of the major Political Parties here in the U.S. is infamous at jumping to conclusions, bending and emphasizing their self agenda driven side of the facts (lying), and groveling in the dirt with calls for destruction when it comes to their opponent, but turns away, minimizes, and makes excuses when it comes to their own misfits, of which there are many. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one, and look forward to the comments following mine! Those who are the most defensive in their response we’ll justly accept as the “GUILTY CLOWNS”.

    1. Pete Antonson February 15, 2019 12:56 pm Reply

      I didn’t know Oswald would turn on his own Republican Party that way. I certainly agree with him about the many misfits and how support continues regardless. The top dog has made 6,420 false claims (also known as lies) in two years. Mueller’s investigation has charged 34 people and 3 companies in 100 criminal counts. Six of them — including three Trump associates — have pleaded guilty. A seventh (Manafort) was convicted. Roger Stone indicted in NY. Also in NY, Michael Cohen, the top dog’s former personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty to multiple charges.
      I think that’s enough for one day. I want to save my fingers for the complete list!

  2. Rev. Dr. Malama February 14, 2019 8:36 am Reply

    Please don’t insult the intelligence of innocent victims of violent crimes, esspecially incest and abuse children and women with a speech promoting redemption…..

    As the Dahli Lama says, compassion helps the one having the compassion … hense, we see “born again ” perpetrators of criminal activity continue to not be held accountable and/or excused by the very ones assigned to councel them…. the Spiritual leader.

  3. Ginger Doll February 15, 2019 9:27 am Reply

    Redemption? Yes, but after an admission of guilt followed by the punishment according to the law. Next comes a demonstrated period of service to others and humility.
    Compassion will be given naturally.

  4. Linda NBCT February 15, 2019 10:02 am Reply

    The element that needs to be present to turn the tide is responsibility for past actions. There is a process that begins with awareness of the problem with past behavior, acceptance of responsibility for the harm that was done, and then actively working to make amends. You can not walk away from your past. You can move on by facing straight into the harm you may have done. When these issues get heated is when people deny they even did what they did.

  5. Suzan Kelsey Brooks February 15, 2019 10:22 am Reply

    We will never right all the wrongs in the world, nor will every miscreant be held accountable. However, there are certain types of behaviors that were so widespread as to have become institutionalized, with results that have gone beyond the individual losses. Some of these–racist behavior, including derision; sexual harassment; predatory behavior of all types–are increasingly addressed years after the fact and sometimes with bittersweet results. Redemption, at its best, is a chance at a new life before one’s god, a cleansing of the soul, and a chance to do better. It should not be confused with the mean girls’ “Sorrrry!” Haven’t we had enough of the “cheap grace” typically afforded the wealthy or those in power?

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