Yesterday morning the news hit the headlines that Katie Price, a former model, had been in a very serious car crash. She had been driving home after drinking heavily on an “all night binge”. The dramatic photo of her mangled car lying on it’s side across the road have now been viewed all over the world.
Thankfully, neither she nor anyone else was seriously injured, but of course, there are legal consequences to face. The emotional/reputational damage she now faces are deep scars that may remain with her for a long time to come.
Her family have since released this statement:
As a family we have for some time been concerned about Kate’s wellbeing and overall mental health. Today our worst fears nearly came true. As a family we have been and will continue to help Kate get the help she needs. We hope that she will realize that she cannot battle her issues alone.
We would kindly ask that the media and wider public give Kate the time and space she needs to seek the necessary treatment, so that she can hopefully return to the Kate we know and love as a mother, daughter and sister. We are concerned and worried about her deeply, we know she lives her life publicly and to many she is fair game, but as a family we hope she can find her path privately moving forward during this very difficult period in her life. We are not asking for sympathy – just that it is recognized that Kate is unwell.
We take great comfort in reading the messages of support and love for Kate that we will pass on to her, in the hope that these positive messages will help spur her on. It takes great strength for one to acknowledge they need help, we hope the door is now open for Kate to learn to love herself and to be happy within. Mental illness is not a personal failure.
The Price Family xxx.
Behind the story of another famous celebrity who has made a very public mistake, there’s another story.
The story of a family who are hurting.
The story of a woman who is struggling.
The family are asking us all to see the other story, and to respond differently.
The question is, can we?
Back in 2018 Anthony McPartlin, one half of Ant and Dec, was arrested after his drink driving caused a near fatal crash. The public were understandably shocked, but pretty quick to move on once he was out of rehab and back on our screens. It was somehow easier to believe that his drinking was a symptom of his depression than it is of Katie Price. But why is that? Could it be because of the neat and simple stories we like to tell ourselves about others.
We might like things neat and simple, but it never is – there is always another story.
Whether we want to respond with criticism or compassion will largely depend on our ability to understand (or sometimes even believe) that there’s another story. That’s not just true of the rich and famous – but of every person in our lives.
Loving others as we love ourselves…?
Sadly, all too often our instinctive reaction is often to feel either like an injured party or a member of the jury – and yet when we’re the guilty ones we desperately hope others will handle us with more care and compassion.
See, when it comes to ourselves – we know the other story, and that story forms the basis for the “reasons” behind our actions. When it comes to others those same reasons sound more like excuses… until we’re willing to listen. The trouble is with the speed of our judgement – we have been slow to listen and slow to appreciate the other story… our foot was on another pedal – making us quick to judge.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be:
quick to listen
slow to speak and
slow to become angry,
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
The Injured Party
One group of people who made a national sport of our judging others were the Pharisees. One of them, a man named Simon, once invited Jesus to a party he was throwing. We don’t know why exactly Simon invited Jesus over – but we do know that he didn’t offer Jesus any of the customary cultural norms you’d normally lavish upon important guests… he didn’t greet him with a kiss, or provide water to wash his feet, or cool his head with oil… Jesus has been invited along, but He’s not really welcome.
Suddenly there’s a gate crasher at Simon’s party – and she’s not just uninvited, she is definitely unwelcome. Her shame is well known; in a remarkable economy of words, Luke simply tells us that she is “a woman of the city, a sinner.” This woman has something we all have – a past, except hers is quite public.
Her arrival immediately changes the atmosphere. People look, glare, whisper… People move away, huddle in corners. Suddenly there’s a tension in the air… but not for Jesus. He doesn’t move away and He doesn’t glare. His gentle welcome causes her to start to weep. Her tears land on Jesus’ feet, and so she undoes her hair (something unmarried women never did in public) and effectively washes his feet with her tears. She bends low and kisses them, but it’s still not enough to express how she feels. She carries with her a bottle of expensive perfume, and in an act of love pours it all out to soothe Jesus’ tired feet.
But despite the scent of perfume, for some there – this whole thing smells wrong.
When Simon sees this woman sat with her hair undone at Jesus’ feet kissing and stroking them, he quick to make his mind up about both her and Jesus:
“If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.”
Simon’s not interested in this woman at all – his mind has already decided “what kind of” woman she is.
Jesus however, sees another story…
Enter the Storyteller
In the blink of an eyes Jesus crafts a story of two people who are both up to their eyeballs in debt… one owes five hundred denarii (a denarii being about a days wage…) and the other 50 denarii. Neither can repay the moneylender. But there’s an unexpected twist in the tale – in a moment of stunning compassion and undeserved grace – both debts (the 500 and the 50) are written off. The debt is cancelled. The debtors are released.
Then Jesus asks Simon a question:
Now which of them will love Him more?
Simon thinks hard, swallows hard and then answers in the only way that makes sense… the words difficult to force out of his mouth.
I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.
The New Economics of Grace
For Simon it was far easier to justify the sin (or debt) in his life by looking down on those he has qualified as “worse sinners“… but the truth is that no matter how much spiritual debt one person’s sins have racked up, – the price is just too high to hope to escape it.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How did Jesus put it? “Neither of them had the money to pay him back” (v42) No-one can. Once our record is stained with guilt, no matter of good deeds can erase it. Our only hope is in the mercy of the moneylender…
Simon’s God has no mercy – not for that kind of woman. To Simon, she is just a disgrace.
Jesus sees another story… He sees a graced life:
Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.
Do you see this woman?
Do you actually see her?
You see lust – but grace has written another story – she is showing love. You see her past – but I see her passion. You see her as forbidden, but I see her as forgiven.
Welcome to the new economics of the Kingdom.
Grace has paid the price, debts are written off, and now new stories are being written.
It’s amazing what happens when grace enters the equation.
Stronger Than Fiction
When it comes to Katie Price, and others like her (famous or not) that we find it easy to judge. I wonder if Jesus ask us the same question:
Do you see this person?
Do we actually see them? Or do we just see their past – or more accurately… our version of their past?
What if there’s another version waiting to be heard; another story waiting to be told?
What might happen if we just added a Christ-sized dose of grace into the mix?
This Sunday we begin a new series called: Storyteller exploring more of the stories of Jesus! We’d love to see you there! Check out Jon’s intro to the parables – what they are and why they’re important: