In our last presidential election campaign Hillary Clinton famously, or perhaps infamously, declared that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.” But is anybody really “deplorable?” I would contend that, no, no person is deplorable.
You undoubtedly are thinking “Surely there are deplorable people. How can one look at Hitler, Stalin, Ted Bundy, or Charles Manson and not call them deplorable?” But if you are a Christian, if you believe that people are created in the image of God as the Bible states, then you can’t take this position.
Certainly you could list all kinds of things done by these and other people that we would call deplorable. But as Christians we must distinguish between people and their actions. As Christians we should view all people as creatures made in the image of God; indeed loved infinitely by our Creator God. This same Creator God who said in 2 Peter 3:9 that He is “. . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” If a person were truly deplorable would God want them to come to repentance and not perish? I think not.
Instead, I contend that God views all people, every single person, as infinitely valuable and God loves each immensely. It isn’t the person that is deplorable, it is their actions. Have I made a distinction without a difference? I think not.
Consider a man I met in prison. It was on a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend that this man stood up and declared “I cannot understand how God could love a piece of crap like me.” All of us should honestly think about this regarding ourselves. At times we have all done things that, if those actions were to define us, would make us all “pieces of crap.” But none of us are “pieces of crap.” We are all children of the Most High God who loves us immensely despite our actions. God does not make “pieces of crap.” He makes incredible people who have been given freedom to make choices, sometimes incredibly poor choices. Unfortunately we do make bad decisions and commit ugly acts. All of us.
In Jeremiah 17:9 the Lord declares that “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked . . .” This is true of every human being, that we are all desperately wicked at heart; that is when we are apart from the Holy Spirit. It is in the purposeful suppression of that still small voice from God that informs us of right and wrong that we can do deplorable things. It is in our deceitful heart that we curb that voice in order to justify or rationalize our wickedness. And make no mistake, we have all done deplorable things. Don’t allow yourself the comfort of believing that your actions are not really deplorable because you can compare them to more horrendous actions of others.
Do you believe you have not done something horrendous? The Lord Jesus said that hating a person is equal to murdering them (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15). Jesus also said that to look at a woman with lust is like committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). Is there a person you hate? Have you looked at somebody that is not your spouse with lust? Have you hurt somebody by gossiping or lying about them? Read James 3:6 and see what God says about the tongue. The power of your words is awesome but it can be a terrible thing when used without the guide of the Holy Spirit. Are you guilty of any of these? I would bet that you are, and even more. And these are all deplorable acts.
I wonder if Mrs. Clinton would say she has never done any such thing. I wonder if she thinks she is innocent of deplorable acts.
Now please understand I am not trying to run anybody down. I just want us all to take an honest look at ourselves. There is only One who has lived the perfect life and avoided doing anything deplorable. Maybe we should be glad we haven’t, that guy got beaten and hung on a cross.
And I am not writing this to attack Mrs. Clinton or anybody of any particular political view. I have seen, heard, and read many of those on the other side of the political spectrum state such things about others. I have done it myself. In my younger days I have referred to those “pieces of crap” in prison as such, and as gutter snipes, and many other things of which I am ashamed. And I have witnessed many other professing Christians do the same. Truly this, calling another person such things, is deplorable.
This is more important than just hurting people’s feelings. This goes back to the power of the tongue. When we speak of people in these ways we label them beyond an outward tag, we invade their soul and begin to make them believe these things. My brother in prison didn’t come to believe he was a “piece of crap” that day. I would bet he was told he was a “piece of crap” at a very early time in life and then went on to live out that label. Keep this in mind when talking to somebody.
When my kids do something wrong I am very careful not to tag them with the action. My kids aren’t bad kids, they are good kids that sometimes do bad things. I separate their identity from the action. I want them to know they are valued, that they are loved, that they are wonderful, and that the bad thing they have done is beneath them. I try and take this into my daily life as I look at others. If people truly, deep-down inside, believed that there is a God who loves them beyond measure, that they are His greatest creation, I am quite sure the number of deplorable acts we witness daily would be greatly diminished. Marking somebody as anything less is to contribute to the problem of evil. They will live out that moniker. Labeling somebody deplorable (or any other number of things) is a deplorable act. It is not Christ-like.
And that brings us to another part of Mrs. Clinton’s speech that day: “Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable . . .” Are there any words that are less Christ-like? If you are a Christian you must absolutely disagree with this. Everybody is redeemable. It is the power of the Gospel of our Lord. No action can separate us from His redemption. Therefore, no person is irredeemable. God can redeem anybody. Yes, anybody. And He longs to redeem everybody. Yes, everybody.
Finally let me say that I am not upset by Mrs. Clinton’s words. First, I am careful not to let people offend me so easily (it is a choice). I am not relinquishing that power to another person (you certainly may if you wish). But second, Mrs. Clinton is not to my mind a Bible believing, professing Christian. If she were asked about her religion she might call herself a Christian, but at a distance she is a cultural Christian. From my vantage point she is a Christian out of heritage, or out of convenience, or perhaps out of political expediency. And she is not alone among politicians of all persuasions. And as, at best, a cultural Christian, I don’t expect her to live up to the standards and commands of Jesus I claim to be a Bible believing Christian, a committed follower of Jesus. I am the one I should hold to those standards.
So let’s learn to look at others as Christ does. He adores them. He loves them. He longs for them. He died for them. If you call yourself a committed follower of Jesus you should do the same.
And back to my brother in prison. After he blurted his statement out many of his brothers got up to hug him and to tell him that he wasn’t a piece of crap. Instead he was told he is a loved, cherished, valued child of the Most High God. That is Christ-like.