In the Justice Zone

It’s great having time to yourself. I’ve just been revisiting series IV of Red Dwarf – and in particular I’ve been delighted to see the theological depths behind the episode “Justice“.

Kryten’s defence of Rimmer is inspired. In essence, he argues that the crime for which RImmer blames himself (the death of the crew of the mining ship Red Dwarf) is not Rimmer’s fault. He argues that Rimmer is too incompetent and unimportant to be guilty – and that the guilt lies in Rimmer’ s mind, in his self-hate, and not in the actual facts of the case at all.

A traditional Christian doctrine is that we are free from sin when we confess, and – if necessary – make reparation. That sounds pretty theological, so let me put it this way – if you know you’ve done wrong, you’ve said you’re sorry, and you’ve done your best to put it right – that’s it. No more. No recriminations from God, no hang-overs of guilt, no nothing. You may think you’re unable to put things completely right – and you’re right. But that’s not your job. Somebody Else did that job, and infinitely better than you could ever do – as Kryten remarks about Rimmer, you’re so incompetent, so flawed, so insignificant that you couldn’t put things right if you tried. Somebody else can instead.

But once that’s cleared up, you don’t need to accuse yourself anymore. You don’t need to dwell on stuff that’s in the past – it’s gone. You particularly don’t need to blame yourself for stuff that was down to bad timing, or bad social graces, or just blame stupidity. Those things, above all, were never your fault in the first place. And you don’t need to blame yourself anymore for stuff that was actually your fault in the first place – if it’s confessed, if you’ve tried to make it right – mend relationships, say sorry to people, give the Bingo money back, whatever – then that’s it. It’s all over. Somebody far more able to carry blame that you has carried the blame for it.

Who can accuse us? If it’s not the accuser, and it’s not the One that was truly hurt – that only leaves you. And if it’s only you, then you can let it lie. Who are you to judge what is right and wrong? It was you that got it wrong in the first place. Go with the One who forgives you. That’s the One who knows how things really are. This Justice Zone is a Mercy Zone, if you look at it right.

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