Learning From Mistake Makers

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a television show whose characters broke most of the Ten Commandments.

There was jealousy.

There was a lot of bearing false witness.

There was no evidence of observing a sabbath or keeping anything holy.

There were gods of greed and power.

The show's title was The Affair, which pretty well covers the "thou shalt not" of adultery.

Four seasons later, this MA-rated, seemingly "sin-infested" show is one that I love. The characters are aggravating sometimes, self-absorbed much of the time. Why spend an hour each week with people who cause you to shake your fists and say, "What are you thinking?!"

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I love The Affair not because of the mistakes made but because of the mistake makers. The show began with a premise as simple as the title: a married man named Noah and a married woman named Allison have an affair.  Noah's wife is named Helen. Allison's husband is Cole.

Half of a one hour episode tells the story from one of their four perspectives. The other half-hour is another person's perspective. While Noah's perspective paints Allison as confident, Allison sees herself as weak. While Helen sees Noah as arrogant, Noah perceives Helen as the arrogant one. At some point, all four of these central characters view themselves as victims and the other three as oppressors. The viewer's perception of the character depends on the story teller.

We find ourselves judging the characters based on the perspective from which the story is told.

How reflective of real life a modern-day story like The Affair can be. We are all mistake makers, and like Noah and Allison we might face consequences for bad choices. But we convince ourselves that other people's mistakes are worse than our own. We judge one another based not only on the story we hear but also on the storyteller. 

...since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
— Romans 3:23 (New Revised Standard Version)

The most recent season finds all four characters in a greater state of awareness of their mistakes. Allison even refers to herself as one of "the ones who can't be forgiven." They are all in a place of fallenness, of regret. They are stuck in the middle of Paul's sentence in Romans 3. When we judge one another, we, too, are stuck in that place of fallenness.

....they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
— Romans 3:24 (New Revised Standard Version)

The Affair is a drama based on sin, but it's also a story about grace. How slow we can be to show grace. How hesitant we can be to receive grace. How frightening grace can be because we surrender our individual perspectives to the eyes of redemption. We are all mistake makers, but mistakes do not have to consume or control us when grace is available. As Khaled Hosseini wrote in his marvelous novel, The Kite Runner, "There is a way to be good again."

Let's be made good again by the grace of Jesus Christ. Let's pledge our fidelity to grace not only as receivers but also as givers who seek the perspective of our Lord.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian