Stories of redemption and redeemers abound in our culture. We love seeing something that is broken/defiled/enslaved/ruined/destroyed come out fixed/purified/liberated/cleansed/saved. It makes our hearts happy.
One example of this is found in Fox’s television program “Kitchen Nightmares” starring Gordon Ramsey. In the show, master-chef Ramsey goes into a failing restaurant and delivers it from its ruin by bringing change and hope for the future. It is truly fascinating to watch each episode and observe the same cycle of redemption repeatedly take place:
RAMSAY CYCLE OF REDEMPTION
1. Glorious Setting: The show begins by attending a unique, interesting restaurant. Usually there is some element of sentimental background attached (Mom and daughter go into business together, owning a restaurant is a person’s dream-come-true, two brothers leave one segment of society to open a bakery, ect.). Thus the stage is set: there is restaurant which was created to deliver high-quality, delicious food and this is the way things are supposed to be.
2. Fall: After introducing the restaurant, the show proceeds to show initial problems with the restaurant: unhappy customers or employees, bad reputation in town, departure from original standards. Usually the owners know something is wrong, but they do not know recognize the depths of their error or their own culpability in the situation. All they know is that something is wrong.
3. Law: This leads to the entrance of master-chef Gordon Ramsay, who upon arrival, meets the owners and tastes their food. Ramsay, being a world-class chef, is an objective critic, and knows when food quality and restaurant standards are not being met. Usually, after the first bite Ramsay declares his disgust: the food is awful or sub-par. He then goes on to show and explain to the owners what high-quality food should look like, and how far they have fallen short of the standards they should be keeping. Often, Ramsay shows how the restaurant has become corrupt in every way: it treats its staff poorly by over-working them and under-paying them, it does not respond to customer complaints, the décor and design of the dining room is shabby and unappealing, the layout of the menu is boring and unorganized, the owners show signs of laziness, there is a lack of motivation and loss of vision. The restaurant is in dire straits! While there is usually some initial objections and push-back to Ramsay’s claims, most of the time the owners demonstrate signs of brokenness (shed tears, and acknowledgement of guilt) over their mistakes and a desire to change (repent).
4. Redemption and Redeemer: After exposing their errors, Ramsay offers hope and redemption. If the owners are willing, Ramsay will provide menu changes, advice for fixing what is broken, and even a remodeling of the store front and dining room. Hope is available, but only if the owners acknowledge their mistakes and trust in Ramsay’s advice. This is usually what happens, and the owners and staff go home that evening trusting in the goodness and kindness of their redeemer Ramsay. The next day they return and what to do they find? Redemption. The store has been remodeled, redesigned, and looks beautiful, and their customers are back and are happy. Alas, there is hope for a new day. But this is not the end of the story, Ramsay also leaves the owners with a new philosophical approach to business and life: don’t settle for lazy mediocrity, be like me and strive for the best—not only in your business, but in everything.
What is broken, corrupt, and enslaved to the foolish ways of the owners has been fixed, made right and freed. Ramsay is the redeemer and the store has been redeemed.
A GREATER REDEMPTION
There is something in our hearts that love stories of redemption like this, but how much greater is the redemption that our Redeemer Jesus Christ secured for us on the cross! We were made to glorify and enjoy God forever in relationship with him. But we have sinned and willfully turned away from Him. We know in our hearts that something is broken in us and in the world, and that we are need in of hope (we feel broken, our relationship with others is broken, we want to know God but are at a loss as to how to do this). Then God’s Law–you shall have no other gods before me, you shall not lie, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not covet–comes to us and convicts us: it allows us to see our rebellion and leads us to be broken over our wicked state. We repent and turn from our wickedness and trust in our Redeemer Jesus Christ, who not only exposes our sins, but takes the penalty for our rebellious ways: Jesus bore the wrath of God on the cross for our sins and died our death in our place; he rose in victory over death by rising physically from the grave; he secured for us a redemption that lasts forever and a transformation that is true and cannot be taken away. As we turn from our evil and believe in Him, we experience eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and a restored relationship with God and others. What a wonderful Redeemer and what a wonderful redemption!