Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Taking responsibility

This link contains matters which impinge upon party politics, but my point is not political:

The sentence I want to highlight is this one:
Mr Clegg said the report made for "sobering reading" and he took responsibility for the failings.
The latter part of that is not a direct quote, but the direct quote appears to be here:
"And as Leader of the Liberal Democrats I take responsibility for that. That’s why we’ve made a number of big changes in the party in recent years and why we must and will do more."
I can't help noticing - and, to repeat myself, this appears to be a phenomena across the political spectrum, rather than confined to Mr. Clegg's party particularly - how the words "I take responsibility" have changed in meaning in my short lifetime.

Previously, "taking responsibility" was connected with ideas like "I have disgraced my office / position, and therefore should offer to vacate it, or am now vacating it, so that someone else can properly honour it".

In modern parlance, when someone says "I am taking responsibility", they increasingly appear to mean little more than "I am saying the words 'I am taking responsibility', I hope you like them." When I hear the words, I am left asking "How are you taking responsibility? What is this taking of the thing upon your shoulders and carrying the can for it going to mean in practice?", and the answer seems to come back "that was it, actually." In Mr. Clegg's case, he conflates "taking responsibility" with taking action to avoid doing the same again. Two very different things. Making reparation and reforming are two distinct concepts in justice. I take responsibility for my errors when I endure the righteous demands of justice concerning them - not merely when I try to not make the same errors again in future.

I am thankful that when Jesus Christ graciously took responsibility for my sins, it was something more substantial than words. Not mere words, but costly blood. He paid the penalty; he satisfied the demands of justice. He did something to make things right again. When he said to the Father that he would take responsibility for the sins of the chosen, covenanted people, that cost him - and being the true leader, he didn't flinch from what that really meant. Thankfully our salvation is not in empty words, but in deeds and power.

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