There are plenty of police shows on, and they vary in location, audience, and other details, but there is one thing that several of them share. The police on these shows have a condescending disdain for suspects. Even the ones that prove to be innocent are thought of as guilty scum.
I don’t condone the crimes committed, but as one of these shows was on in another room recently, I was struck by how that attitude is more common that I wanted to admit. What are your first thoughts when you hear about a suspect in court being charged with a crime? Most people, myself included, think about how it serves them right to be punished. We may also think about the victims, and the suffering they are going through. Do we ever stop to think about the souls of the suspects? Just because they committed a crime, does that mean we cross them off our witnessing or prayer lists?
On a related, but less violent subject, we do the same thing to bullies. Whether in school or the workplace, the first idea is to punish them, or embarrass them. I totally support appropriate discipline, but we totally forget that we really should be after helping them with whatever problem is causing them to be a bully. With bullies, there are always at least two hurting people, and both need help. The person being bullied needs help with that pain, and the bully needs help with the underlying pain.
It’s easy to follow society and dismiss the convicts and bullies as people people that deserve whatever they get. Have we forgotten that our sin deserves eternal punishment? Are they less deserving of grace than we are? When Jesus said to love everyone, even our enemies, did He add a footnote to that?
Again, I support discipline, but that doesn’t remove our need to pray for those that persecute us, curse us, and hate us. They’ve done something wrong, but we’re not holier than God is, so we cannot decide to treat them as unlovable or worthless. Isn’t that we we’re accusing them of saying about their victims?