On a chalkboard in a local coffee shop was this thought for the day: “There is always a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.”

Don’t we all want that…a second chance? An opportunity to do things better or right or differently.

I’ve heard a word used in popular media twice this week which involves this idea of a second chance; redemption. On breakfast TV Max Markson was promoting Mike Tyson’s tour of New Zealand and Australia. Tyson is well known as a boxer but is also a convicted rapist and it is because of this that he is experiencing some visa issues with New Zealand and potentially Australia. Markson argues that Mike Tyson has changed his life and that he has something valid to say, especially to youth. He is, to use Markson’s words, “all about redemption.”

Redemption. That’s an interesting word for Markson to use. Mostly the word redemption is used in religious circles, being a common idea in many faiths. However, it is not commonly referred to on breakfast TV.

The meaning of redemption that fits best with Mike Tyson’s rebuilding of his life is the idea of absolution for past sins or errors. Tyson had a troubled childhood, redeemed his life though boxing, sunk to new lows with his rape conviction but has since redeemed his life with marriage and children, and seeks to speak to youth about ways they can redeem their own lives.

From a Christian perspective redemption is wrapped up in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This historical event is infused with the concept of humanity being redeemed, being bought back, after having been “sold” to a wilful disregard of God’s place in the world and individual lives.

In my own journey of redemption I find God becoming more involved in the really mundane aspects of my life, “buying them back”, so that ordinary things like going to the movies and shopping are activities that he is a part of. (BTW God is a great shopping partner!)

So… back to redemption and Mike Tyson. The redemption I see him espousing is self-redemption. By dint of his own will and determination he is making something new and better of his life. I have no arguments with this and he is to be commended. He certainly could have something to offer youth who may be tempted to take less-than-helpful paths through life.

But can you redeem yourself? Or is redemption only something that can be done for you by another? I believe it is the latter. If redemption is absolution then this something that is granted by another, or by society…and I’m not sure society has granted Mike Tyson absolution yet (or he would not be having these visa issues). If redeeming is to buy back then again this is only achieved by the actions of another person or group on your behalf.

Is Mike Tyson all about redemption? I don’t really think so; because redemption isn’t something a person can achieve for themselves…it is a gift, undeserved.