The Daily, a popular New York Times podcast, defined the word `cancel' "as a total disinvestment in something.” In today’s cancel culture, we often see a public outcry for accountability that quickly becomes a call for atonement. While accountability is absolutely needed, the culture can become a mob out for blood. While many of us would admit that "cancel culture" is toxic, we don't want to admit that we take part in it to some degree! This trend has no doubt trickled into our individual relationships and contributed to the divided world we live in now.
So, how do we adapt to our current culture without adopting its values? Cancel culture is not kingdom culture. The thing is, God's kingdom culture calls for justice, but also mercy. Jesus' radical ways in ancient days would have certainly led to him being canceled in our time.
In John 8:3-11, we see Jesus encounter a woman who was "canceled" or rejected by the mob of her time. In this story, the Jewish religious leaders known as Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus to see what he would say. Honestly, the Pharisees tried trapping Jesus with their public outcry to see what he would say. However, Jesus' response is brilliant! In John 8:7, he replies "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." In his response, Jesus didn't condemn the adulterous woman's actions, but he also shows her mercy.
Fortunately, Jesus' redemption doesn't end with the adulterous woman in this story. In the same way, He deals personally with our sin. So personally, in fact, that Scripture tells us Jesus left Heaven to take on a human body, lived a perfect life, died on a Cross, and rose from the dead to save us from sin and death. Jesus doesn't cancel people, he cancels our sin.
ADAPTING TO THE CULTURE WITHOUT ADOPTING ITS VALUES
In light of Jesus' response to cancel culture, we want to provide you with three practical steps to live in the tension when you see a post or hear opinions that you don't like or agree with. We pray that these steps will help you infuse mercy and justice into every relationship.
#1) ASK GREAT QUESTIONS
In John 8:3-11, Jesus questioned the angry mob, which ultimately led them to leave the woman alone. Nobody could confidently condemn her when Jesus asked who was innocent enough to cast the first stone. His wise questions de-escalated the situation, ultimately saving the woman's life.
#2) LISTEN EMPATHETICALLY
When Jesus personally addressed the adulterous woman, he listened to her responses without making her feel judged. He was genuinely curious about the state of her heart. This helped him to respond to her without the public outcry and anger of the mob.
#3) RESPOND WITH MERCY AND NOT JUDGEMENT
Cancel culture will tell you that you can only live at peace with the people who agree with you, vote like you, and define sin like you do. However, in Matthew 5, Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for them. So, the next time you see a post on social media that makes your blood boil, instead of canceling the person, let their posts in your feed remind you to pray for them. When you pray, don't just pray that God would change their mind: Ask God how He sees them. Ask God to cancel your anger so you don't need to cancel the relationship.
As Christians, living like Jesus in a cancel culture isn't going to be easy because it involves loving our enemies. But, the next time you feel tempted to join the mob, remember that Jesus did just the opposite for you.
Check out the additional resources below to keep learning from Liquid Church's Relationship Goals series:
- Message: Happily Ever Before. Contrast the culture's lies about singleness with God's truth. Click here to watch.
- Blog Post: Empty Nesters On Keeping Love Alive. Mickey and Julissa Rodriguez have two grown boys. In this interview, they share their tips for keeping love alive after over 20 years into marriage. Click here to read.