I have really enjoyed John Dobbs’ recent thoughts inspired by Lost (here, here, here, here, here, and here). I can’t hardly watch anything without trying to make a sermon illustration of out it (it’s a curse, I can’t stop it). And art so often imitates life and is universal, so it makes for good reflecting.
James “Sawyer” Ford is good at being bad. He has some of the best one-liners and is easy to hate. He is a jerk. He is cruel. Everyone wants to beat him up. He steals. He lies. He is selfish. He is the kind of person most of us would want to avoid and would simply endure if we worked with him or lived in his neighborhood.
He clashes with everyone because of his attitude. But only one person gets to know him and find out more about him. Kate read his letter and discovered his secret. She began to look at him differently and treat him differently from the moment she realized he was the one who wrote that letter instead of being the recipient. I had more compassion for him at that point. I hope he still has chance for redemption and hasn’t simply been given the miraculous opportunity for revenge.
IMO, Jack’s flashbacks are the only ones which evoke more pity that Sawyer’s.
When he quits the con after seeing the little boy.
When he realizes he has been conned into killing the wrong man.
And most of all, the night his father kills his mother and then takes his own life while Sawyer is hiding under the bed.
These sad things don’t make him more likable. They don’t excuse his behavior. But they do help us to understand him. You can have compassion without condoning one’s behavior. I worry that many Christians don’t get that.
I often hear Christians say things like, “I just don’t understand why so and so misses church so much” or “I can’t figure out why they couldn’t salvage their marriage” or “It seems they they just didn’t try hard enough.”
Unfortunately, as minister, I am often more aware of someone’s baggage such as depression, addiction, childhood trauma. Maybe I was surprised the marriage lasted as long as it did. That doesn’t mean the divorce was okay with God or me. It is easier to understand why people are mean and bitter and do the things they do when you know more about them.
I am not saying a person is not responsible for his/her actions and attitudes. I am not suggesting we should empty the prisons and make sin okay. But we need compassion.
Anyway, this was just a longer way of saying this, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be used to you.”