You’ve heard it said: “Innocent until proven guilty.”
But in today’s Twitter world where news travels faster than Tesla’s Insane Mode, an accusation is merely enough to have the jury of public opinion bring down a verdict almost immediately.
So it’s understandable why people and companies swiftly distance themselves from these guilty-until-proven-otherwise individuals. They don’t want to be brought under the rash judgment of the public. Otherwise they risk loss of profit or reputation or both.
A Current Example
Two days ago, the FBI raided the home of Jared Fogle. If you’ve seen any TV commercials in the past 15 years, you know Jared as “Jared, the Subway Guy.” Jared has been in over 300 Subway commercials, simply because he lost 245 lbs while a college freshman, eating only turkey and veggie subs from Subway over 15 years ago.
With his Subway fame, Jared used his wealth to start a foundation to battle childhood obesity. And he needed somebody to run this foundation. That man was Russell Taylor.
But this past Spring, Taylor was arrested after investigators found over 400 videos of child pornography in his possession. So while the FBI isn’t talking, it is assumed by most that their “raid” of Jared’s home has to do with the investigation into Mr. Taylor’s activities.
But for those in the jury box of public opinion, just the presence of investigators at Jared’s home makes Jared guilty of the same crimes Taylor is accused of.
And so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Subway has “suspended” their relationship with Mr. Fogle, just as Jared’s foundation “severed” all ties to Mr. Taylor after his arrest.
No one wants to be associated with the perceived-guilty.
A Personal Example
If you read the Bible for very long, you’ll discover that it says we are all guilty. While you may not be guilty of possession of child-pornography (I sure hope not!), you are guilty of sin. If you are human, you have committed sexual sin, lied to others, gossiped, eaten too much, and not kept God at the center of your life. “For ALL have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard.” is the way Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans.
But I am SO thankful that God didn’t sever all ties with me, or suspend our relationship, even though I am guilty. Rather, He allowed Himself to be associated with the guilty. Jesus took on human flesh, and died a sinner’s death, paying the penalty that WE should have owed for our sins.
Even though we were weak in our sin, even enemies to God’s will and ways, God associated himself with us. He didn’t abandon us in our worst moments, He rescued us from them.
Living Out This Truth
So if you are a Jesus-follower, here’s what this means for you:
First, take some time to thank God for not severing ties with you, but rather linking up with you, allowing the righteousness of Jesus to be counted as your righteousness.
Second, as a Jesus-follower, you are to live like Jesus lived and love like Jesus loved. This means that if someone you love, someone you are associated with, does something sinful, don’t immediately sever ties. I’m not asking you to abandon truth, pretending that what they did doesn’t matter. But how can you lead with grace? Because if your friend becomes overwhelmed with guilt for what they have done, they might need you to be the one to help lead them to the feet of Jesus, where they can find forgiveness for their sin and the power to forgive themselves.
Yes, by associating yourself with the guilty, you’ll be “stained.” Your reputation might take a hit. You might get thrown under the bus by the jury box of public opinion. But in the end, God, who knows your heart, will reward you, because He is glorified when you seek to let Him work in you and through you.
So may you have the guts to be associated with the guilty. Selfless love requires it of you.