The tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd in the USA has opened up a whole set of interlinked issues across the world including in the UK. At the time of writing some statues of people who made their fortunes through slavery have been removed and a debate goes on about how we live today with the legacy of their influence and money. This raises the question, how do we live with our past?
Pausing for a moment to consider my own past, although I have never transported a slave, I’m pretty sure that some of the things that I said and did in earlier decades I would now be embarrassed about. If you were planning a statue of me I suggest you put it on hold because my past isn’t perfect.
There is a distinctive Christian perspective here, which is that people are redeemable and not trapped by their own past mistakes. No matter what you or I or anyone has done, God’s love reaches out to forgive us and renew our lives.
A very appropriate example of this is John Newton who although not very successful at it (he was shipwrecked several times) was a slave trader. During his life he came to faith, became a vicar and wrote many hymns that are still popular today: “Glorious things of thee are spoken”, “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds” and probably his best known, “Amazing grace”. In that last one he wrote, “how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now am found”.
Our past might be murky but with God we can have a clean future.
PS I can be contacted at email@example.com or on 01892 862821 or at The Rectory, Southfields, Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 0PD.