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.