One of the most controversial behaviors in modern society is summed up as “cancel culture.” Everybody seems to believe they are a victim of it, yet nobody seems to believe they are a perpetrator. Urban Dictionary defines canceling as “to dismiss something or somebody” and “to reject an individual or idea.” Just as television shows are canceled, modern culture has gotten into the practice of “canceling” those who we feel have spoken or behaved in a way that they have forfeited their right to be accepted by society. Taken to the extreme, cancel culture allows no room for redemption. And it seems that every day smaller and smaller offenses qualify as canceling offenses. As it turns out, Jesus had a cancel culture of His own, and it looks a lot different than the cancel culture enveloping society today. Here are just a few key points from Jesus’ cancel culture:
- Condemnation and death are canceled: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)
- Your death in sin is canceled: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14 (NIV)
- Not loving everyone is canceled: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
- Judging others hypocritically is canceled (part I of II): Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3 (NIV)
- Judging others hypocritically is canceled (Part II of II): “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” John 8:7 (NIV)
Take note of how the first, third, fourth and fifth items cancel today’s cancel culture. This is not to say that we cannot or should not be held responsible for our words and actions. And some behavior is so egregious that the person responsible does need to be held accountable. But if that person repents and apologizes, Jesus’ words above mean we need to offer grace and mercy to the person, as Jesus did in His time on earth for others and continues to do for us.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to face consequences for words and actions. It does mean that Christ-followers are not afforded the luxury of deciding who no longer has the privilege of being recognized or taken seriously in our culture at large. It also means someone’s expression of opinion isn’t necessarily egregious because we happen to disagree with it.
We can respectfully disagree with others. We can, in Christ-following love, explain why they may want to consider apologizing for what they said or did. But Christ’s words do not allow for us to outright reject someone else. You see, Jesus canceled our version of cancel culture long before it became fashionable in the 21st century
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere, WI.