I got an email at 12:45 AM Christmas morning from someone who was very angry with my Christmas Eve sermon. (You can watch that sermon here.) In my sermon, I wondered aloud if we are becoming a culture without mercy–once people have sinned, can they ever find redemption?
I cited the extreme example of Harvey Weinstein and asked if even he can receive mercy. The person who sent me the angry email felt that I was excusing Mr. Weinstein’s many sins that have caused harm to so many people. It shouldn’t have to be said, but let me say it anyway: but I do not excuse, condone, or approve of any of the things Mr. Weinstein is said to have done. In fact, the very reason I used him as an example is precisely because his sins seem so particularly ugly.
Which brings me back to the question I was asking: Can Harvey Weinstein receive mercy? Can he receive redemption?
Our actions have consequences, and justice requires that people face those consequences. I don’t think mercy and consequences are mutually exclusive; Mr. Weinstein should be prosecuted for his crimes and if he is found guilty, he should be sentenced accordingly. And, there should be boundaries in place that make it very difficult for him to hurt anyone ever again.
But what happens after that? If he repents, can he be redeemed?
I’ve been asking that same question recently with regard to Lori Loughlin and the other celebrities caught up in the college admissions cheating scandal.
What they did was wrong and they need to face the consequences.
But what happens after that?
It strikes me that it’s when people are guilty and ashamed and despised–that that is exactly the time when they need to be welcomed at church. I have no idea if Lori Loughlin and her family have a church family, but I’d guess that they don’t. Is there any church near them who will reach out? If they were to show up at a church, would they be gawked at? Would folks pull out their phones and post pics to social media?
Most of us are able to hide our sins or explain them away. We maintain plausible deniability and pretend.
But sometimes there is no hiding. Sometimes we are totally exposed. Sometimes the whole world knows.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but let me say it anyway:
Jesus died for sinners. Not the respectable sinners only, but also the shameful, wicked, public ones. Jesus died for Harvey Weinstein. Jesus died for Lori Loughlin.
Is there anyone around them who will tell them?
Is there a church family who can teach them?
Is there a place they can go on Easter Sunday to hear the Good News?
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