Typical response to evil in this world: bitterness. Our Christ-like calling:
As Matthew West put it in his recent song: “It’s the hardest thing to give away. And the last thing on your mind today. It always goes to those that don’t deserve. It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real. It takes everything you have to say the word.”
I’m not going to suggest to you that this will be easy. This is Christianity 401. An advance course. You need a little righteous anger, a little enduring hope… in order to get to Christ-like forgiveness. But it has to come.
There is a whole host of Scriptures I can share at this point, but one will do… Mark 11:25 – “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”
Christ hasn’t called you to some mamby pamby religion. The one who said “Come follow me” walked the Via Dolorosa. He let his enemies beat him mercilessly and murder him on a wooden cross and used one of his last breaths to pray: “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”
You might be thinking right now: “I CAN’T FORGIVE!” (You may be one of those people for whom it does NOT come easy.) You are right… you can’t forgive. You have to let Christ do it for you… and through you.
He is working even now to reconcile the world to himself and calls us to be ministers of that reconciliation.
God can change the hardest of hearts. While the world cries out for vengeance… we cry out for justice… and offer hope to both the victims and amazingly to the perpetrators as well.
Philip Yancy in his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” wrote: “…in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out. I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy.
One of the most moving interviews I have ever witnessed was that of Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, one of the grade school children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary story. He was a believer that reached out to comfort victims, to offer hope to those in need and to offer the first words of forgiveness just a day after the tragedy. Here is a portion of what he had to say to reporters: (see video at http://www.godvine.com/Father-of-a-Sandy-Hook-Victim-Offers-Forgiveness-to-the-Troubled-Shooter-2560.html)
“It’s an horrific tragedy, and we want everybody to know that our hearts and our prayers go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter. I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you. And I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well. At this time, our thanks go out to so many people, so many friends and family. And complete strangers who we don’t know. For all the love, condolences and is support that you have given to us.
My daughter Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving her love and support to all those victims. Because that’s the type of person that she is. Not because of any parenting that my wife and I could have done. But because those were the gifts that were given to her by her heavenly father. As the deep pain begins to settle into our hearts, we find comfort reflecting on the incredible person that Emilie was, and how many lives she was able to touch in her short time here on earth. Emilie was bright, creative and very loving. Emilie was always willing to try new things, other than food.
Here at the church last night, there was a special meeting, and I was given an opportunity to be able to speak at that, as well. And in that, I just mentioned that, you know, the person that chose to act in this way was acting with a God-given right that he was given by God to — with his own free agency. And that free agency is given to all of us to act and choose to do whatever we want. And God can’t take that away from us. And I know that that’s something that he was given and that’s what he chose to do with it.
And I know that God can’t take that away. I’m not mad. Because I have my agency to make sure that I use this event to do what I can to do whatever I can. So, I want to make sure that my family and my wife and my daughters are taken care of and that if there’s anything that I can do to help anybody at anytime, anywhere, that I would be willing to do that.”
Not mad… but resolved to serve. That is the response of a mature believer.
This concludes my “A Christian’s Response to Evil” series… please comment if it touched you in any way. Thanks again for reading!