Gold Medals and Mercy

I was back on Downtown Radio this morning for the first time in ages, after their decision to completely axe the input from their erstwhile religious advisors was rescinded. This is (more or less) the somewhat idiosyncratic review of the week that was broadcast...

Well… it’s been a good week for sports fans, with the World Athletics Championships, the resumption of the English Premier League and the culmination of the Ashes (for those of you poor benighted fools who consider cricket to be a sport).

Watching Philips Idowu and Jessica Ennis win gold for Britain in the athletics was brilliant, but the efforts of all other athletes were put in the shade by lightning Bolt shattering both the 100 and 200m world records. Then of course there have been the controversies: the perennial drugs issue and the question as to whether Castor Semenya, the South African winner of the women’s 800m is really biologically a woman…
Meanwhile in the Premiership some are wondering whether the massive injection of cash into Manchester City will produce a championship winning team… which, if it does, will lead, inevitably, to accusations about buying the premiership… And yet is that not the way of professional sports? It is only the richest clubs that can afford to pay the outrageous amounts of money for the world’s greatest players… Did Manchester United buy the championship last year? Or more to the point have they sold it this year with the sale of Ronaldo and Tevez?

But meanwhile, back in the real world, the news this week has been dominated by the release of convicted Libyan Pan Am bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. This has caused much condemnation in the United States and has divided the relatives of the bombing victims, many of whom were never convinced that he was never guilty in the first place. The compassionate nature of the release and the claim that it was purely the decision of the Scottish Parliament, have both been shaken by suggestions from the Libyans that Gordon Brown and even the Queen brought their influence to bear, and that the release was a condition of all trade negotiations between Libya and Britain. There have been suggestions that the US is secretly delighted that al-Megrahi has been released as big-oil has been putting pressure on the administration with regards to trade with Libya, and they are not convinced of the safety of his conviction, but this way they can be seen by their own more hawkish commentators to be tough on terrorism, while Scotland acts as the fall-guy.
All of this set me off again thinking about the nature of the mercy and forgiveness offered to us by God. We can’t negotiate with God. We have nothing with which to trade with him. We can’t win our forgiveness like an sports-person wins a medal by merit, through hard work and determination. We can’t buy it, or achieve it with pharmaceutical help. Whether we are male or female, whatever our nationality, culture, political, religious or sexual orientation we need God's forgiveness… And there is nothing we can do about it.
But God has done all that needs to be done… All we need do is accept, and, in response and with his help, change our ways.
Does al-Megrahi deserve to be released? I don’t know, because I don’t know whether he deserved to be there in the first place. If he did, then no he didn’t deserve to be released, but because of the compassion and mercy of the Scottish Government, he was…
Do we deserve to be forgiven by God… I know that one… No, we don’t deserve God's forgiveness… But because of God's grace and mercy he offers that forgiveness to all who would receive…


Lisa said…
Even though he is dying,he should not be trusted and he should still be monitored.
Maybe not, but I don't think he is going to be doing much international travel any time soon!

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