I was contemplating this morning on a number of things revolving around violence and the flippancy we treat the lives of those around us. This happened after a brief back and forth with someone on Facebook regarding capital punishment (according to the Bible) and I was a bit flustered. Anytime I have Facebook banter with someone my emotions rise and my blood pressure probably goes up. I realize this has something to do with not wanting to get into a debate on Facebook because it never really goes anywhere. Forums and Facebook never seem to be a place where people actually change their deep rooted beliefs or values based on some comment someone made. Also, it’s a public debate. It just encourages others to get involved.
The only reason I commented today is because I have committed myself to calling out my friends when they flippantly talk about violence, the lives of human beings, or marriage. This is especially true of my Christian friends, and especially true of my very vocal Christian friends. If you talk about loving people and post Bible verses all the time, then you shouldn’t be flippant about things that should be taken very seriously.
Anyway, while he believes, as many do, that it is God’s will that the government kill those “who have given up their right to live” because they have “killed a life they didn’t create,” I argued for mercy and forgiveness.
Forgiveness and mercy is not the natural human response. Forgiveness, in our minds, negates justice. But for a Christian to seek out death for another human being instead of forgiveness seems ignore what makes the “good news” so good. Of course that doesn’t mean we do not live with the consequences of our actions. I just do not believe that death is the necessary means of punishment. That’s core to what we believe as Christians. Does a murderer deserve death? Yes. But that death has already been paid. Once. For ALL. Because we ALL deserve death.
So as Christians, it’s ok to go marching around saying that someone deserves death, as long as that person is also pointing to themselves, and then explains that they have already been forgiven.
And that is what makes forgiveness so powerful. When we forgive, we are imitating God. It’s not natural for us. That is why I like the quote from Alexander Pope, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
I also love the quote,
“We are most like beasts when we kill, most like men when we judge, most like God when we forgive.”
There’s already enough death in this world.There’s already enough injustice. People are shot to death when they are just trying to find help. The world doesn’t need more death and killing. The world needs more mercy and forgiveness. Because ironically, true justice and life is found in the greatest unjust death that has ever occurred: that God died for all mankind and through Him any human being can have eternal life. That’s the Gospel.
Forgiveness brings and breeds justice.