Just over 20 years ago, a band called The Verve Pipe released a song called “The Freshmen” that became a breakout hit for them. The song is dark and moody, and dramatizes the end of a high school relationship.
After narrating a terrible, painful choice his once-girlfriend makes at the end of their relationship, the singer croons,
“For the life of me, I cannot remember what made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise. For the life of me, I cannot believe we’d ever die for these sins. We were merely freshmen.”
But the tone of the song doesn’t agree with the singer’s claims of innocence.
So when he admits, “We’ve tried to wash our hands of all of this. We never talk of our lacking relationships and how we’re guilt stricken, sobbing with our heads on the floor,” we recognize it for the lie the singer knows it to be.
He’s seeking absolution. He begs, “I can’t be held responsible, ’cause she was touching her face.’ Then, as though that’s not enough, he insists, “I won’t be held responsible. She fell in love in the first place.”
The Verve Pipe gives poetic expression to a deep truth we all know but, like the singer, don’t want to admit: We belong to each other.
And when we enter into relationships with one another, we become responsible for each other. We’d love to believe that your bad choices are your responsibility and mine are mine and theirs out there belong only to them.
We sing, “I can’t be held responsible!”
We insist, “I won’t be held responsible!”
But we know, deep down, that it’s not so simple. Relationships are messy and we have some level of deep obligation to one another.
For God’s people, this is even more explicit. God has set us up as priests, intermediaries between God and the world. By choosing to follow God, we accept the privilege to represent God to the world. We’ll see today that privilege comes with a heavy responsibility to bear that image well.
The good news is that we don’t bear God’s image alone. The one whose image we bear is with us, and always working in and around and through us to bring life and hope and healing.