THE BRIDGE OF FORGIVENESS
Some people summarise the Gospels as ‘Simple. Powerful. Good.’ Others, pointing to the text above, would have us think that it is ‘Unnatural. Impractical. Impossible.’
After the Lord’s prayer in which Jesus says, ‘… and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’, He follows up with a declaration that ‘If you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’ (Matt. 6:12–15). And then to demonstrate His message, Jesus on the cross, being humiliated and crucified, He asks God, His Father, to forgive His torturers (Luke 23:34).
In June 2015, a young white man attended a prayer meeting in a historic Afro-American church in Charleston, Alabama, with the intent to massacre the leadership of the church and start a race war in the city. Nine people died. At an arraignment hearing soon afterward, the insensitive judge put one of the victims’ daughters on the spot and asked for her ‘victim’s impact statement’. As unprepared as she was, she replied that ‘the young man took my beautiful mother and my pastor, but my pastor always taught us to forgive and somehow we will do that’. This simple, spontaneous response shaped the outcomes of the following days. Instead of a race war, the whole community, irrespective of race, came out in solidarity across the Charleston bridge to hold hands together and pray.
Forgiveness changes. Powerfully. Ask God today to empower you to make a simple, powerful, good response to His Word in your dealings with others. Then watch Him change you and wait to see Him eventually change the situation.