The astonishing power of forgiveness

Two articles I came across the last couple of days completely missed the power of the Church and forgiveness. One from the “left” and the other from the “right.”

One column declared blacks need to quit forgiving white racists.

Forgiveness has become a requirement for those enduring the realities of black death in America.

That misses the power of forgiveness found in the church. Not just a black church. ANY church. It is the Church in Syria praying for ISIS as their churches are leveled.

We don’t excuse racism. I’m tired, as a white evangelical, of excusing racism. I won’t stand for it any more. But to forgive is not a “requirement” of just one race. It is something powerful through the grace of Jesus that brings healing and salvation. It may not do anything for the one “needing” forgiveness, like the racist thug sitting in a jail in South Carolina, but it releases the one offended into a new freedom.

And, then, of course, is the standard conservative, “You won’t get my guns!” response. 

It’s really an ad for Smith and Wesson, et al, but nonetheless, it’s the standard, “If someone in that church had been packin’…”

My suggestion is that you and your loved ones practice concealed carry and become your own first responders — immediately. Purchase a Glock, a Smith & Wesson a Sig or a Ruger handgun (American made). Take lessons from an NRA certified instructor. Get a concealed carry license if one is required in your state. Train with your new firearm religiously (as if your life depended on it), and carry it on your person religiously (as if your life depended on it).

It would seem this is self-evident as to why this is just garbage in the context of the Church, but I have come to realize nothing is self-evident these days.

To shave this down to a matter of gun rights and say it would have been different if someone had a gun in that sanctuary misses the point of CHURCH. It misses the point of SANCTUARY.

Tragedy happens. Racist hatred rose up and pulled the trigger that killed nine believers willing to love a white kid coming into their doors.

Call it naive. But that SHOULD be the way of the Church.

On the left and on the right in the political world, they will once again devolve into standard arguments and nothing will be done. We will continue to NOT talk about racism if we dig our entrenchments deeper and keep lobbing these political grenades.

What unbelievers don’t realize (and it should be JUST unbelievers, but I keep getting shocked by believers who just give bumper sticker answers to this event) is that the Church IS different. There is the reality of hatred in this world against a believer for just being a believer, or for a believer being a certain race.

To the “conservative,” gun-packing crowd, realize there just aren’t enough guns to be had to protect believers who truly follow the way of Christ from being attacked. Someone could have been packin’ in Emanuel AME that night, but that’s one church. And they CHOSE not to pack. They CHOSE to love. It is risk. And Jesus was all about risk.

And let me veer off into yet another rabbit trail while I’m at it. For all the conservatives who say someone should have been packin’ that night… just think about it. A BLACK MAN carrying a gun in South Carolina. How long you think THAT is going to go well? (I just had to get that out.)

It’s not about “packin'” or not “packin'”. It’s about choosing a better way. A way of peace. A way that risks and puts your life on the line, but it’s the risk believers take. The right to “carry” wouldn’t go over that well in Syria, either, by the way. The cry could be to give every church in Syria a tank and it still wouldn’t overcome the hatred of ISIS. And that’s not the point, anyway. The POINT is to live out the power of the Kingdom on this earth, which doesn’t make sense by this world’s standards.

Which brings me to the “liberal” voice of “quit forgiving.” Forgiveness has a power that can’t be explained in the courts or the capitals of our nations. It’s beyond politics.

I am deeply angered by racism and sincerely hope this thug gets his due. Forgiving him doesn’t get him off the hook. He may continue to spit at any black man walking by him. That’s not the point.

The call of forgiveness for the believer is FOR the believer. It is the call of release of spirit. If I don’t forgive, I tighten my hand into a fist and hold onto the offense. If my hand is bound up in a fist, then I can’t receive the next thing from God. But if I release the offense in forgiveness, my hand is open to receive the next good thing from my heavenly Father.

We must STILL deal with racism. The power to forgive the killer isn’t the same as saying, “Go ahead and be racist. I can deal with it.”

Forgive, but let’s get to the work of dealing with racism as well! THAT is what I want to rise to in my own life now. Forgive, but RAGE against injustice!

Don’t excuse. But forgive. It’s not a black thing. It’s a Jesus thing.

And the world won’t get it.

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