YouTube star Jenner Marbles has announced she’s quitting the channel and at the same time has apologised for previously painting her face darker to impersonate someone of a different race (what has come to be known as ‘blackface’). What particularly struck me was her comment that it’s a time when we’re all “purging ourselves of anything and everything toxic”, for that’s effectively what ‘conversion’ is.
The Greek word for conversion is metanoia, which literally means to change one’s mind about something, the Christian idea being that a person turns their back on what is wrong in their life and turns 1800 towards God, re-orientating their lives to the way God wants us to live. I know nothing of Jenner Marbles or her beliefs but I very much doubt she is describing a conversion in the Christian sense although there are clear parallels in the language she uses. Where God and Jesus come into it are in having God’s commandments and Jesus’ example to follow in how to live our lives. I’m not saying that Jenner is going to go back to ‘blackface’, but we all have behaviours which we regret yet seem to repeat over again in spite of ourselves. Speaking for myself, I know that I am a better person for having Christ in my life, acting as a compass, if you like, to which I can orientate my life.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, it says Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Some criticise the church for its emphasis on sin, seeing it as being about stopping people having fun, but when you look at the things we’re not supposed to do, the way we should live, it’s actually about giving life to ourselves and others. Someone once said to me that Jesus spent his time with 12 other ‘ordinary blokes’, do you really think they didn’t have any fun?
Equally, there’s contention about the term ‘saved’. Saved for, or from, what? God, hell as some would argue? I think a valid interpretation is that Jesus came to save sinners from themselves, from behaviours which harm ourselves and/or others. In the early days, Christianity was know as ‘The Way’ Jesus came to show us the way to live.