I have been pondering how to express something about forgiveness for a while. I hardly think I am a wellspring in myself of ideas on this. I have heard that forgiveness is the most powerful force in the world. It is considered a nice virtue by people that may or may not consider themselves spiritual. I kept thinking I should be able to put something together.
But it didn’t feel right. Maybe it was because I would be putting something out there that is a beautiful thing with too much intellectual take. Truth expressed without a context is just dust in the wind.
As of this week, Ferguson gives us a context. The context is outrage. It is hurt in the heart that is added on to generations of wrongdoing in the sad story of race relations. For the readers who perceive the lack of indictment as justified, please forget that for a moment and think about how we are all on a journey to walk in grace as we were created to. The healing begins as one walks in that grace by withholding wrath that we feel entitled to dispense.
So this brings us to a hill 2,000 years ago when an itinerant rabbi says his piece about extending mercy in place of wrath.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Keep in mind, that he was speaking as a Jew among Jews in their land oppressed for a long time by the Romans. There was room for a big grudge but Jesus never spoke that way. He called for something better.
For those who are sympathetic to the protesters, think again. What kind of mercy do you want? When have you blown it in a small way or big one? We want to have a clean slate but the sayings of Jesus challenge us to want that for others and especially those who have hurt us the most and the most times. How often are we supposed to forgive someone that hurts us personally? Seventy times seven which is really infinity. As a social worker I am trained to see groups by the system they form themselves into, the story of their lives and the identities they make from it all. But as one who considers himself a Christ follower, I have to ask both sides, can we do better beginning with the power of forgiveness?
We may not like to forgive others. But we dislike even more to be unforgiven by others when we seek it in tears. What have you got to lose besides shame and regret? The ultimate source of mercy is a God who is far above the fray of this life, knows are faults and is there for the mercy to us if we will participate warts and all. What is stopping us?