I remember it was back in the late 90’s and TGIF was going strong on ABC. Ahh, how I loved those Friday nights with Step by Step, Family Matters, and especially Boy Meets World. Still to this day, Boy Meets World is my favorite show. Therefore, it was quite the shock to my system when it was announced that Boy Meets World was being cancelled. “Cancelled.” I thought, “Where is it going? Why? How could a good God let this happen?!? What will happen to the actors? How will I learn to live if I don’t have Cory and Shawn helping me along the way?”
Cancel, what a strong word, what a terrifying concept.
I can recall years ago when I learned the power of that word when speaking with my satellite provider. Just the utterance of the first syllable of the word seemed to send shivers of terror down the spines of customer service representatives as they quickly worked me up the ladder to a customer service specialist. It was in those days I learned the power of the word cancel, but also the seemingly impossibility of actually cancelling my tv satellite subscription.
Unfortunately, in our world today, because of cancel culture, it’s easier to cancel another human being than to cancel our TV service.
This, my friends, is a problem – not because it’s an indication of the lack coming from TV companies, but a lack of seeing other human beings as created in God’s image and worthy of love no matter their past decisions.
Cancel culture seeks to make disappear those who have made mistakes or are making mistakes. It seeks to eliminate those who are not “inclusive” of the “exclusive” way of thinking that actually is cancel culture. While promoting a store front of inclusivity the warehouse of cancel culture is one of exclusivity. When truly considered, cancel culture doesn’t work towards healing or reconciliation of humanity, it only wants to make those who do not fall in line, simply disappear.
The thing, which should be of basic human rights, is that all people are created in God’s image and are of sacred worth. To make another human disappear in the name of justice, is not justice, it is demonic. The mud of sin, the heresy of thought, and the waywardness of actions do not eliminate the image of God in a person.
It is in this culture, as with all cultures, that Jesus enters into. Whether the twisted generation that exists of which we are now living or the one Paul was referencing in Philippians 2, Jesus enters a culture that need not be cancelled, but redeemed and healed.
Jesus met with the woman at the well, deep in sexual sin, and did not cancel her out – he restored her.
Jesus went after that scoundrel, Matthew, the tax collector, and did not cancel him out, he invited him to follow him.
Jesus made breakfast for that double-minded boy named Peter, and gave him more chances.
Jesus redeemed Mary Magdalene from 7 demons. Instead of calling her crazy or seeing her as a hopeless girl living in the shadows, he saw her, he loved her.
If we want to create a culture that cancels out other human beings because others do not adopt and live into a certain way of thinking that is man made, we will continue to destroy each other.
If we want to, not create a culture, but live into a culture, the culture of Christ, which we call the Kingdom of God, we will begin working towards reconciliation. This culture, however, does not bring uniformity, but conformity – conformity not to movements and hashtags, but conformity to Christ.
Why Christ though? Why be exclusive to him? Because he did the only cancelling that humanity so desperately needs – the cancelling of the debts that stood against us due to our sins (Colossians 2:14).
Calling upon Christ, receiving him as Lord and Savior, is actually a confession that we realize – we all should have been cancelled. We all have sinned. We were deserving of death. Hell should be our future. Yet, God, in his great love, while we were sinners, died for us, proving his love, making a way for us to live into our God-given image that is stamped upon us.
It is here in this place of humility, at the foot of the Cross, that the Church finds her culture – where reconciliation is possible, where racists are healed, where the sexually sinful find restoration, where those worshipping other gods find the one true God. It’s at the foot of the cross that the “God, guns, and country” believer realizes they only need God.
Sin is a missing of the mark. This is what cancel culture does, it misses the mark. Cancel culture tries to make for a better world, but it just doesn’t work, because instead of healing and working through the different opinions and ideologies that exist within humanity, it cancels people out and does nothing with them.
The reason the culture of the Kingdom works is because Christ has done something with the injustices and sins of the world – he bore them on his body while he hung on the cross. It was Christ in our place on the cross. It was the man from Nazareth who hung for the racist from down south. It was the God-man who hung for the atheist that lives in the urban city center. It was the Son of Man that hung for the man confused about his identity. It was the Lover of our souls who hung for the woman who roams about looking for love in all the wrong places. As Christ hung in our place he brought a way that all the aforementioned and all the not mentioned might be saved from our wicked ways.
Jesus entered this world – a world of injustice, racism, gender identity confusion, sexual sins, abortion, affairs, divorce, murder, and other attrocities. As Eugene Peterson notes in The Message translation of John 1:14, “Jesus moved into the neighborhood”.
Now, the church lives in the neighborhood, continuing His mission of not cancelling people out or trying to deal with social justice issues by ourselves. We continue his work by doing his work, which starts with proclaiming Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. We tell the Jesus story because we are the Jesus story and we invite people into the Jesus story.
This is the story not of the cancellation of humanity, but the redemption of humanity, through the Cross of Christ.