I just finished watching a movie at home called Amish Grace that premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network Palm Sunday, ness March 28, 2010. The movie is based on the 2006 Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, Amish school shooting and the spirit of forgiveness the Amish community demonstrated in its aftermath. I suggest you purchase or rent it as we did and show it to your family. The message of grace is overwhelmingly powerful.
But before I go, let me share with you another story of grace; I just read it in Phillip Yancy’s book, “A Skeptic’s Guide to Faith. It is no less powerful. “When the world sees grace in action it falls silent. Nelson Mandela taught the world a lesson in grace when after emerging from prison after 27 years and being elected president of South Africa, he asked his jailer to join him on the inauguration platform. He then appointed Archbishop Desmond Tutu to head an official government panel with the daunting name, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Mandela felt he needed to abandon the natural pattern of revenge practiced by so many other countries where one oppressed race or tribe took control from another.
For the next 2 1/2 years, South Africans listened to reports of atrocities coming out of the TRC hearings. The rules were simple: if a white policeman or army officer voluntarily face his accusers, confessed his crime, and fully acknowledge his guilt, he could not be tried or punished for that crime. Hard-liners grumbled about the obvious injustice of letting criminals go free, but Mandela insisted that the country needed healing more than it needed justice.
At one hearing, a policeman named van de Broek recounted an incident when he and other officers shot an 18 year old boy and burned his body, turning it on a fire pit like a piece of barbeque meat in order to destroy the evidence. 8 years later van de Broek returned to the same house and seized the boy’s father. The wife was forced to watch as he burned her husband on a woodpile, pouring gasoline on his body, and igniting it.
The courtroom grew hushed as the elderly woman who had lost first her son and then her husband was given a chance to respond in court to what he had done. “What do you want from Mr. van de Broek?” The judge asked. She said she wanted Mr. van de Broek to go to the place where he burned her husband’s body and gather up the dust so she could give him a decent burial. His head down, the policeman nodded in agreement.
Then she added, “Mr. van de Broek took all of my family away from me, but I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him. And I would like Mr. van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God and that I forgive him too. I would like to embrace him so he can know my forgiveness is real.”
Spontaneously some in the courtroom began singing “Amazing Grace”, but de Broek didn’t hear them, for he fainted and was overcome by such grace.
Justice was not done in South Africa that day, something far greater did, it’s called grace. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu understood grace and that it was the only answer for their country. They understood that any measure of revenge would not get the job done, only grace could, the kind Jesus demonstrated on the cross.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
What conflicts do you have with others? Who has hurt you so much that you cannot forgive them? After all didn’t Jesus forgive you of all your sins against Him on the cross? Can you or even shouldn’t you do the same with others?
Finally if for no other reason, wouldn’t you rather have your heart filled with forgiveness and grace than hatred and revenge for another? What those have done to you, its over, let God take care of them now as only He can do. You move on and fill your mind and heart with the good things of God, not with the sourness of revenge.
Sayings and Scriptures to think on
He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass. (Herbert)
Giving grace and mercy to another never asks for anything in return.
The grace of God justifies the sinner, not the sin, that was taken care of on the cross…so move on and put it in the past just as He has.
Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our trespasses against you Lord, just as we have forgiven others against us.
I Peter 3:8-9 8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing
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Matthew 5:22-23 23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Matthew 18:21-22 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Colossians 3:12-13 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.