This is the time of year when we learn about TV shows being cancelled. With so many options available to us these days, some of the programs getting the axe we’ve never even heard of. Sometimes when a show’s being terminated, we think, “How can they do that? I really like that one!” Well it seems we too can be cancelled!
They call it “cancel culture” – people determining what’s acceptable and what’s offensive. If we say or do something that’s deemed offensive, we run the risk of being cancelled. Take some recent, high-profile examples: The Muppets, for supposed stereotyping by their puppet “people.” And Dr. Seuss, for his rhyming characters. In fact, I’ve heard the classic “Green Eggs and Ham” could be cancelled as being offensive to eggs of color.
And then there’s the kid favorite, Mr. Potato Head. Another victim of the gender identity police. As someone has said, when we start fretting over the gender of a plastic potato, our society is in grave danger. We’re going from the ridiculous to the absurd, it seems, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (I hope lettuce doesn’t get cancelled!)
Actress Gina Carano, who starred of the hit Disney+ show, “The Mandalorian,” was recently fired and dropped by her talent agency for daring to criticize the “woke” Hollywood culture. But she’s in good company. None other than George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and other icons from history have also incurred cancel culture’s wrath.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re dead or alive, if your wrong was done yesterday or decades ago, or even if it was unintended, said or written out of impulse or ignorance and not from malice. If the “authorities” deem it to be so, you’re cancelled.
Which made me start wondering what God might think about all this. How does He feel about all this cancelling? Thankfully, we can turn to the Scriptures and find some solid answers. For starters, we find the admonition Jesus Christ gave during His ‘sermon on the mount.’ He cautioned, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). This is a verse often used by non-believers as well as those who follow Jesus.
In the next verse, however, Jesus elaborates: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He’s not only teaching we’re not to pass judgment on others, but we’re also to recognize that when we judge – or even “cancel” others – we run the risk of being judged, or cancelled, ourselves.
How do we know this? Because in the gospel of John, we read about the Lord being confronted by religious leaders. They demanded that He give His view of a woman caught in the act of adultery. The law at that time was for the offender to be stoned to death. (They took cancelling very literally.) In response, after bending down to write something on the ground with His finger – no one knows for certain what that was – Jesus said to them, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
As His words sunk in, one by one the leaders put down their stones and walked away. Reluctantly, in their self-righteous anger, they had to admit they each were every bit the sinner, in their own ways, as was the woman accused. Not that Jesus exonerated the woman. After everyone else had left, He asked, “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘God now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:3-11).
Fast-forwarding to today, each of us who is so eager to cancel someone else – for whatever reason – stands just as guilty before God. As it says in Psalm 53:2-3, “God looks down from heaven to the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away, together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
For emphasis, we find similar wording in Romans 3:10-12, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless, there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Based on those passages, we could easily conclude that if anyone’s to do any cancelling, it should be the Lord. Compared to a holy, all-righteous God, not one of us comes close to measuring up. But the Gospel is literally “good news,” and the best news of all is God is not concerned about cancelling. Romans 5:8 assures, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Long before any of us had an opportunity to even think about committing cancellable behavior, He had already provided the means for forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation. God has even made provision for regeneration, a fresh start: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If we’re honest enough, every one of us can find something – probably lots of things – that we regret and would undo if we could. It’s reassuring to know that even if the cancel culture cops were to come after us, because of what Christ has already done on our behalf, we need not fear that from God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Your favorite TV show might get the axe, but in Christ we never will.