So, Jeremy is not having his contract renewed. The odd thing is that some people think that he should. Over 1 million people have signed a petition calling for the Top Gear star to be reinstated with no consequences or even questions asked.
So, imagine that you go to work and have a big argument with someone and you end up hitting them. You know what the outcome is likely to be. The petition page has the phrase ‘freedom to fracas’ on it and it seems really bizarre that some people seem to be saying that violence towards someone else is something that we should be free to do.
So, what should the Christian response be to this whole episode?
One of the key themes in the Bible is justice and it is encouraging to see the way that justice has been done. It sometimes feels like the rich, famous and popular get away with a too much and the BBC has made the brave decision to say that no one gets away with everything. Every action has a consequence and one of the things in Clarkson’s favour is that he appears to have grasped this more than the people who have signed the petition to reinstate him. Clarkson apparently reported the incident himself and he has also referred to himself as a dinosaur. Jeremy seems to be acknowledging that he crossed a line but does the word dinosaur imply a sense of being stuck in the past? Does he feel that he can’t change?
God cares for the downtrodden and vulnerable. We should pray for Oisin Tymon in all of this. Tymon was attacked verbally and also physically and the whole world now knows about it. God cares about victims and we should pray for them.
The nagging thing that I can’t shake off as I reflect on this whole episode is trying to see where grace fits in. Grace is central to the Christian faith. We believe in forgiveness, we believe in fresh starts and we believe that as a result of grace that everyone can change.
In John 8, we read about a woman who was caught in adultery and she was brought by the religious leaders to Jesus. They know that Jesus cares for people who are sinful in their behaviour and they are sure that Jesus will condemn her but he doesn’t.
How does this passage help us to think about Clarkson? I have rewritten it to help us consider it (the words I have changed are in italics):
3 As he was speaking, the BBC internal investigations team brought a a man who had attacked his work colleague. They put him in front of the global audience through the internet.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this man attacked someone else. 5 The law says he must be punished. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus started doodling on his Ipad. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned hand him his p45!” 8 Then he doodled some more on his Ipad.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the man. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to Jeremy Clarkson, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” he said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
If I could say anything to Jeremy Clarkson, it would be this.
You don’t have to be a dinosaur, you can change and there is always the opportunity to start again.
There should be forgiveness when someone is sorry and they want to change.
There should be consequences. If Clarkson had been allowed to stay on then it would have been with some kind of probationary conditions and also supervision and accountability put in place.
There should be new beginnings. People can and do change. 2000 years ago a woman was going to be stoned to death, but Jesus wouldn’t condemn her and she was set free with the opportunity to change her way of living. The grace that Jesus revealed offered her a new beginning and a relationship with God where she was loved and valued unconditionally. How did her life turn out? We will never know.
It’s easy for us to judge Jeremy because he is
quite very completely outrageous.
How about us though? Are we perfect?
I may not have hit anyone today, but how have I treated the people around me? Clarkson treated Tymon in an unacceptable way, but people mistreat others verbally every day and get away with it.
Focusing just on what is wrong with other people can lead to us being blind to our own faults and mistakes.
Let’s be honest about who we are and what our faults are but as we do this, let’s also remember that God offers forgiveness and a fresh start.
As a result of grace, anyone can change. Even dinosaurs!