By Ronnie McBrayer
Daryl the Cable Guy showed up at my friend’s home to fix his malfunctioning modem. Daryl noticed the Christian books in my friend’s office and immediately began unloading his burdens. Daryl admitted that he too was a pastor; at least that was what he used to be. An extramarital affair had ended that career posthaste, and he had been recently expelled from the church and lost his marriage.
My friend shared that story with me a few days ago, and when our conversation ended I flipped on my own cable box. Greeting me on the screen was Senator John Edwards, explaining his most recent legalities and apologizing profusely for a laundry list of well-publicized immoralities.
Daryl the Cable Guy and John the Senator have a lot in common, and it was more than a bit ironic that I heard their stories within seconds of each other. Both fouled up in a very public way. Both violated the trust that good people had placed in them. Both weaved their webs of deceit, harming those closest to them. And both stand in need of redemption.
That’s a remarkable word, redemption. The Christian books on my own shelves tell me that redemption means “to buy.” The word carries the idea of freeing a person who has been enslaved; cutting the chains that bind; lifting away the weights that one carries. Thus, anything – anyone – worthy of redemption is exactly that: Worthy and worth the price.
The objections at this point are obvious. Philandering preachers? Vile and despicable acts by national politicians? Redemption? You can’t be serious! Well, people exactly like this seem to have been Jesus’ best pals. Let it never be forgotten that the accusation the religious community always hurled against Jesus was that he “was a friend to sinners.”
I concede that redemption doesn’t necessarily mean putting Daryl the Cable Guy back in a pulpit. The intoxicating authority found in such a position may be no good for him. John the Senator will likely never hold public office again and that’s probably a good thing for him; such offices are often more poisonous than profitable anyway.
But this does not change the fact that all of us sinners need safe, accessible communities of faith that will challenge our selfishness, point us to a hope-filled contrition, teach us what it means to love others and be loved by God and yes, redeem us.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.