Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vengeance vs. Forgiveness -- Hope Chronicles 71

Awhile back I read Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. She does not write to a Christian audience, but I have really liked some of her stuff. Change of Heart was not one of my favorites. Yet it still had those "ah -ha" moments that made me think.

The premise is that a pregnant woman's husband and child are murdered. The murder is on death row and wants his heart to go to the woman's second child. As you will have guessed needs a heart transplant. In the book, the mother, June, asks the following questions:

Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love?

Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish?

Humanity has a great need for vengeance. We want to see the wrongs righted. We want people who hurt us to pay ounce for ounce back every bit of hurt and suffering they have caused.

Humanity has a great need for vengeance, but Christianity has no need for it. Yes, being human, we still want to see people pay for what they have done to us. But Jesus calls us to something higher, something better. He calls us to give our hurts and even our hopes to Him and let Him do the sorting out. Yes, our enemy may in the end get his dying wish, but we would only rob ourselves and the ones we love if we lived by vengeance instead of forgiveness.

But forgiveness is hard. My father was very abusive while I was growing up. He has never asked forgiveness for what he did. I must admit that I still harbor some bitterness about everything he robbed me of and even the angst it has caused with other family members. But I do not actively seek revenge. I leave that all with Jesus. To that extent I have forgiven.

Yet, the question is one my pastor has asked in his own life. He had an abusive step father who late in life responded to an altar call. His first response was, "No, you cannot forgive him, God!" But like me, he has had to learn to leave the balance of it all up to God.

There is the rub, isn't it? With the cross their is no balance. It's all lopsided because Jesus paid the price for all of it. Because of that lopsided balance, I have hope. Without it, I would never be able to come to God. Coming to Jesus, isn't that worth giving up our sense of vengeance?



ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Oh Amy.......what good thoughts. So right on. Love it girl.

Joyful said...

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." Lewis B. Smedes

Great thoughts Amy!