Community Updates

Mistaken Identity

Jason Davison
August 23, 2021
Note: In-person worship and livestream 
Worship is at 10:15 AM on Sunday
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“Well, whatever you do, however terrible, however hurtful, it all makes sense, doesn't it, in your head? You never meet anybody that thinks they're a bad person.”
- Tom Ripley, from The Talented Mr. Ripley

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”
2 Samuel 12:13-14

Dear Grace Family,

I agonized back in 1999 as I was sat through the Matt Damon headlined, The Talented Mr. Ripley. I didn’t know what the film was about, but I really liked Damon from Good Will Hunting so I thought I’d give it a try. Yet when I realized that the movie was a mistaken identity thriller where I watch the main character lie, murder, and steal another person’s life—I wanted the movie to be over post haste.

What I didn’t know was that the film I was watching was based on a 1955 book by the same name from American novelist Patricia Highsmith. The point of Highsmith’s book was to examine the complexities of the human psyche, where the reader is meant to identify with the morally ambiguous Ripley who does despicable things.

Doing some research this week on Ripley, I found that the two films based on the novel deviate from Highsmith’s original intent for our reading experience. The films go out of their way to show that Tom Ripley is evil; driven by either greed or erotic desire, forcing the moviegoer to see how bad a person the protagonist is. In contrast, Highsmith creates a mistaken identity narrative where it is unclear what Tom’s motivations are—unknown to the reader, to ancillary characters, and unknown to Tom himself.

I think Highsmith is onto something about our human condition, it corroborates with the Bible’s portrayal of our hearts. Recall Jeremiah 17:9,

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Separated by a massive amount of time, place, and culture, the people of the Bible--like us-- are redeemed not because they are great people who are always noble. No, the people in the Bible God chooses are deeply nuanced, are sometimes despicable, and they make terrible choices. The apostle Peter is called both “blessed” and “Satan” in the same interaction, (Matt 16:23); David is “God’s man” but is an adulterous, murderous, liar; and in our text this Sunday, Abram—the blessing to the Nations—lies to save himself at the tragic expense of his wife, Sarai.

How do we make sense of what many commentators find to be a very complicated story? The only certainty of the passage is the grace of God to Sarai and Abram—even when Abram doesn’t deserve it (Rom 5:8). Everything else in the passage asks us to think carefully and prayerfully of the passage and the complexities of our own hearts and the long-term consequences that follow (Gen 12:20, 2 Sam 12:14).

We are invited to worship our faithful God this Sunday, and think carefully on this passage. I look forward to worshipping with you in person and remotely.

This Sunday: Genesis 12:10-20

"Mistaken Identity"

Here is the Order of Worship, the Children's Order of Worship is available on location, Sunday morning.

Grace to you,

Pastor Jason

P.S. We will continue to hold in-person worship and livestream this week at 10:30 AM. As we mentioned previously, masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated folks. Pre-register for nursery here.

P.S.S. Just a head’s up, we are aware of the Governor’s mandate that goes into effect this coming Monday. Please expect to hear from leadership with our updated protocols next week.