True humanity – flawed and loved

I was saddened to learn that Tim Keller has recently been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

I know that many of you will want to pray for Tim and Kathy, his family, and the global church, which is so indebted to his ministry.

I am thankful for the many areas of ministry which Tim Keller has impacted, across a wide spectrum.

However, there is a single quote of his which I first heard in a class he taught in the States in 1997, which is perhaps the most profound. Still speaking powerfully to our own day, he summarises the Gospel diagnosis of the human condition, and provides the cure, as follows:

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Every human being is deeply flawed, and deeply loved.

This view of humanity needs to be heard today, because it puts all human beings in the one category: we are all able to be creative, altruistic, generous, and loving. And, we are all equally capable of being monsters.

With his in mind, I have been reflecting on the way in which the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol was unceremoniously dumped in the river last Sunday, by those protesting in the name of #blacklivesmatter.

Now, please don’t get me wrong: slavery is abhorrent, and in no way should be celebrated. But does that mean that Edward Colston was only bad, and his philanthropy counts for nothing? What about Winston Churchill: yes, deeply flawed. But can we not still celebrate his leadership in defeating Hitler’s evil?

Professor Nigel Biggar, esteemed former colleague of Oxford University, wrote in the Times this week about the problem with a shallow grasp of history. Contemporary appeals to victimhood, and political power, mask the fact that most of us are a “moral mixture of good and bad”.

JK Rowling has also come into considerable flack this week, all because she expressed her views about transgender ideology. She has apparently moved from a beloved children’s author to an evil witch in the space of a few tweets. Apparently there are only two categories of people now.

The point is this: you will find no perfect human beings in this world – not now, and not in our history. But equally, even the most flawed human being is capable of some good. Beware of tearing down another person, purely to make you feel better about your moral self.

This is why the Gospel is such good news! There are none so wicked that they cannot be redeemed by the saving love of God when the Gospel is heard and loved. Neither is anyone so good that they don’t need repentance and forgiveness, for even “good people” are thoroughly tainted by sin.

So, what about our statues and memorials of the past?
I am not sure; a debate needs to be had. But, is it not possible that we honour the good that even bad people do; and can we recognise all of us are riddled with sin which affects all that we are and do?

Thank God for the Gospel!

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