X Marks the Spot

“Make way, good people, make way, in the King’s name,” cried he. “Open a passage; and, I promise ye, Mistress Prynne shall be set where man, woman, and child may have a fair sight of her brave apparel, from this time till an hour past meridian. A blessing on the righteous Colony of the Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine! Come along, Madam Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the market-place!”  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

What a great book. I remember in high school when our literature curriculum guided me to the book store to buy the Cliff’s notes. And later, because my English teacher was a wily one, I had to make a trip to the video store and rent a VHS of the movie to supplement my “reading.”Poor Hester sinned and was marked for that sin so all would know what kind of woman she was.

Those wacky Puritans took their sin pretty seriously. Once your sin was found out they had some very creative ways of exacting punishment for said sin. They were operating a sort of “buy here, pay here” type of indiscretion emporium. Once Hester got marked, it was for life. Obviously, they were expressing their religious freedom with far less theological study than we have available today.

Nothing like that could happen these days. We would never physically brand someone, even if it was just a letter on their clothing. Would we? Or, would we just make a mental note that this girl is a tramp, or, that guy is an alcoholic? Would we mark them with a virtual X? Would we blacklist them?

If we do blacklist them, where and with whom does it stop?

Elder Fred is a trouble maker? X

I can’t leave a key for Deacon Reynolds to fix the wiring–he was in prison. X

I really don’t like how Sister Jones handles the nursery; don’t invite her to the ladies’ meeting. X

“No, I’m not going. I don’t want to hang out with people who act like that.” X

I heard the pastor left his last church because of a scandal. X

 Once people fall from your grace, is there room at your cross for them?

I find the more years we are removed from our salvation experience, the less acquainted we are with grace. That grace that was afforded us in our failure has escaped our recollection. If some joker jerks me around or acts like an industrial-sized keaster then I’m done with him. X marks the spot, the blacklist for you, Chump. You have sinned against me, and I will not tolerate you any longer.

However, the Blacklister is an equal opportunity offender. No one is safe from scrutiny. Heck, for them it doesn’t even matter if you fail them personally. You could just be jacked up in your own life. The Blacklister sees Mr. X, with the kind of deficiency that begs for someone to come alongside him, but instead he penalizes Mr. X for the rest of his life.

There are two questions that plead for answers. First is whether or not the Blacklister can stomach anyone other than Jesus, the perfect one? Second is, are you a Blacklister?

Blacklisting is the antithesis of discipleship.

7 thoughts on “X Marks the Spot

Add yours

  1. Tough post but right on the money. We need to offer the same grace to others that Jesus offers us. In fact, there’s a good book I read somewhere that says in order for me to be forgiven, I must forgive others. You may have read it too….

    How about this: After you forgive a person who has not changed “their way of doing things”, do we still willingly walk back into the same scenario knowing what may happen again?


    1. I think it probably depends on the individual circumstances. We are not talking about abuse or the like. I was thinking mainly in those of us who just see a poor choice or bad habit and immediately and forever mark off the offender. Even if that offender is wrong in the beginning they still can change. Many do but don’t “earn” their way off the blacklist.


  2. “an industrial-sized keaster”? LOL!

    My name could be on that list- crossed out, with an X, and then a few more cross-out lines for good measure. I attribute a great deal of my growth (and desire for continued growth) as a Christian to people who choose NOT to cross others off their lists for being less perfect than Christ. Our relationships with God are just that: Relationships with HIM. But something about feeling welcomed into that relationship by others is profoundly psychologically helpful.


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