By Jack Wilkie
July 17, 2018. Eighth inning of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader gave up a 3 run home run to put his team behind… but little did he know that would be the easiest part of his night. As he was on the mound, Twitter users discovered a number of offensive things he had tweeted ranging from 6-8 years ago, tweets filled with racism, sexism, and anti-gay messages (actual hatred, not of the “I think homosexuality is a sin” variety).
As he returned to the dugout he found that he was the talk of the night on social media, with many calling for him to be suspended and/or heavily fined. The rest of the night saw the baseball game overshadowed by the reaction to Hader’s breaking story, including interviews with him and various teammates who commented on the situation.
Hader wasn’t the only one whose past was mined for sins and indiscretions, though. Film director James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame had a number of off-color tweets brought to light, leading to him being fired from the third installment of the Guardians trilogy. Television director Dan Harmon and comedian Sarah Silverman also had past offenses brought to light, though they have yet to face consequences. The situation has essentially devolved into a battle of people from different communities and political leanings trying to expose people on the other side to prove a point.
To be clear, all of these people did things worthy of criticism and consequences. I don’t know what any of them have done to make restitution, and I certainly don’t know if they’ve repented to God. But that’s not the point here. Whether they make it right or not, in the eyes of many they have now been buried under the weight of their crimes with no chance of ever making things right.
Whether they sincerely apologize or not, whether they make it clear they are changed people or not, they will always carry the weight of those misdeeds because it’s advantageous to others to keep them in that disgraced position.
My point here? This is the world’s version of justice. They will ruin you in a heartbeat to give themselves a leg up socially or politically. We get to feel like we are better people when we point out how people on some perceived “other side” are bad. The result is that many people’s lives have been radically altered once their reputation was irreparably damaged in the eyes of many. Many are driven to depression or even suicide following revelations of their deepest, darkest secrets.
We see the same style of mob justice built on embarrassing someone for strategic advantage in John 8. The Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. They expose her sin in front of everyone to try to trap Jesus. Seeing this story from her viewpoint paints a horrifying picture. Her sin is exposed for every one to see. She is there to bear it alone, and like the famous fictional character, she essentially is branded with the scarlet A.
By contrast, these mob justice stories show us the greatness of the Gospel. Every last one of us sins (Romans 3:9-23). Every last one of us has things in our past (or even our present) that we don’t want the world to see. Though humans often like to think that the Bible is too judgmental, and that we are more loving and forgiving than God, these situations show us how untrue that is. At our very worst, mankind will exile us with no path to restoration. On the other hand, at our very worst, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:6-8) to clear our slate. And though we’ll never be perfect here, His blood continually cleanses us.
Aren’t you thankful that through the cross God “forgives our iniquities and remembers our sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34)? Aren’t you glad we can sit at Jesus’ feet and hear “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more” rather than be destroyed by the world’s justice? Aren’t you glad that we can stand confidently before the throne to receive grace because of our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:16)?
In the world’s eyes, some sins are so great that there is no way the debt can ever be paid and removed from our ledger. In God’s eyes, there is no sin so great that Jesus’ blood could not pay for it.
Which one of those options is “too judgmental?”