John Newton did some wretched things, he was a slave trader. He was involved in a despicable industry. Contrary to popular belief, he did not change his ways after a terrible storm in which he called out for God’s mercy. He was still active in the Slave trade for another six or seven years after that event. Millions of people (including children) have sung his song called ‘Amazing Grace’ and wholeheartedly sang the words “that saved a wretch like me”. Please understand that you are NOT a wretch! You are not wretched and you never were. Some of us have done bad things. Things that hurt others, things that devalue our fellow brothers and sisters and weigh on our conscience. However, at the centre of our being we are all intrinsically good and perfect. Gold that has fallen into mud still has the same value.
My wife and I look after children that are not able to live with their biological parents. These children have suffered violence, abuse and things we don’t want to mention. As a father, foster carer and nurturer do I tell these children that they are wretched? Sinful? Accepted by God only if they say ‘the sinners prayer’, repent of their sins? No, these precious children have already been told that they are useless, worthless, no good, they have suffered untold trauma, violence and abuse. I WILL NOT tell them that they are wretched. I would not want them to sing it either. I will tell them that they are loved, beautiful, accepted.
I implore you to tell your children that they are of great value and worth. Tell it to your Mum and Dad, tell it to your wife, husband/spouse/partner, tell it to your brothers and sisters. Tell it to those you meet, and most importantly, tell it to your totally non despicable self.