reputation

24 05 2011

When I saw the offensive graffiti written on the house, in 2 ft high letters, I though to myself, here goes. This is one of those situations you read about in the papers and hope to never see. The bad spelling said a lot – if you can’t spell ‘paedo’, it’s probably best not to write it on a wall – but that’s not the point.

So where does Jesus send us when this happens in our street? As far away as possible, I hoped. Probably best not to get involved. But Jesus was never really a ‘don’t get involved’ kind of person.  Instead he said go and knock on the door and see if the guy is ok. And if he wants help cleaning it off. Actually it was Fran who said that, but Jesus tends to use her like this.

But people might see, I thought. And the man might be grumpy? It’s probably best not to get involved. Keep my head down.

So I knocked on the door. There was no-one in. Phew… But a man called through the window from a house opposite. He warned to me stay away. Why? Because I didn’t want to give the church a bad reputation hanging round with people like that. The church already has a bad reputation, I replied, which may not have been the best response. I am not worried about that, I said.

Actually I am. Not so much the church’s, but mine. Jesus may well have hung out with people of dubious reputation and survived but… hang on, he didn’t survive. Jesus may have had the confidence to ride social shame – even violence – but I don‘t know if I do. I don’t think I am so good at slipping away unnoticed. I certainly have no 3 day rising plans. What if the church was targeted in a ‘guilty by association’ way; what if my house was, or my family?  And… and… and…

There are always excuses. Always reasons. But kingdom values are different values. And this is where it shows. I do not believe scrawling on people’s houses is any sort of justice. I do not believe destroying people’s reputation publicly is any sort of trial. And this is true whether or not the person is guilty or innocent. I believe in justice. I believe in grace. I believe in a love beyond all compare. Which means that even those guilty of the most grievous crimes are still worthy of love. As are those publicly accused by the mob. 

As are those who do the accusing.

Not everyone can love like that. I don’t know if I can. But perfect love drives out fear. The light overcomes the darkness. And there are more important things than reputation.

(And credit to the council – graffiti removed within 36 hours)

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10 responses

24 05 2011
Fran

All the darkness in the world cannot put out a single candle light.
The smallest act of light in a dark place is the brightest thing we can offer.
Don’t ever be afraid to do the right thing. Even if it costs.

24 05 2011
carol

We think how frightened we are of what others might think…think how terrified that man (who knows what others think) must be feeling!

24 05 2011
c2drl

The spirit of the age says name them,
punish them, kill them.
We know they are guilty as sin,
so let everybody else know too.
Tweet it, blog it, shout it in parliament,
its not justice we want but vengeance,
its not truth we want but punishment in which we can revel,
because we are good and they are evil.

The spirit of God says go in MY name,
listen to them, reach out to them,
see the person behind the sin.
Go quietly, don’t shout about it, do good by stealth,
find the truth and then travel with them, perhaps through punishment,
because they, like us are sinful but are beloved children of a loving God.

God’s way is not an easy way,
you can become contaminated with other’s sin,
see things you don’t want to even acknowledge exist.
But when you emerge,
your priestly vestments stained with unspeakable dirt,
there will be one who meets you and says well done,
who washes clean your clothes
and says ‘now my beloved, you can do it again,
and again, and again – keep on loving in the name of the SON.

24 05 2011
Kevin

This is a beautiful response. Shouting, vengeance, punishment, they are the first responses so often. I love the idea of priestly vestments stained with unspeakable dirt. Not that I wear them of course…
Thank you

25 05 2011
Thought provoking post | Will Cookson's Blog

[…] Read his article […]

25 05 2011
Will Cookson

Kevin,
I think your article is very brave and uncomfortable and challenging. It does make me stop and think and wonder if would have done the same.

26 05 2011
wonderingsoul

Love seems to give us strength and bravery where we may otherwise cower. DIVINE love gives us an almost supernatural strength and bravery.
I think that’s what you demonstrated by knocking on that door.

That is amazing.

x

29 04 2013
dorothy726

as a victim, I believe in forgiveness for _all_. And that means I believe in getting involved with the perpetrators as well as the victims. After all, God does… He got involved right up to the hilt in our grime and murkiness and darkness and overcame it.

29 04 2013
Kevin

Thanks for sharing, from people who have suffered from it it means so much to know I’ve hit the mark; or rather, that I’ve tried to understand god and might be on the right track. Thanks.

29 04 2013
dorothy726

You’ve hit the mark. You’re on the right track. See email I’ve just sent you.

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