The sad news is that this is way too common. A School Shooting. It was October 2006, a lone male adult walked into single room school house in Lancaster, PA. The school house was for the Amish community. No security, no metal detectors, no anything. Before the man killed himself, he had shot 10 young girls, 5 of which became fatalities.
All across America, emotions erupted in anger, brokenness, sadness, and even just apathy. One can imagine the tears and the shouts that erupted – globally. But there was another emotion – surprise. A surprise that turned to inspiration, For you see, the Amish community, even the families of the wounded and lost, showed … Forgiveness.
Even before the whole story was reported, some of the offended families reached out to care, to show compassion, to hug the family of the shooter. The community did not let bitterness take root but; thus based on the Biblical standard of being forgiven, they carried the principle to the end result, and they showed forgiveness.
They didn’t ignore the grief. They didn’t tolerate the sin. They didn’t bury the act in their minds and turn to just cope. They proactively reached out to show love, compassion and tenderness. Yes they cried. Yes they mourned. Yes they acted Biblically.
Too often we, and by we, I am even referring to those as myself who strive to be living by a Biblical worldview … too often we hold bitterness, resentment, unresolved anger within ourselves and we seek revenge, at least just to get even. But more than get even, we do the Sean Connery, Untouchables, philosophy – we bring a gun to a knife fight – we think we need to go bigger and badder.
But that is not the standard that is healthy for us. That is not the Biblical response. Now, be warned, the Biblical response is not easy. It is not what the world would emphasize.
300 years ago, a reformed pastor wrote a work that included a discussion on forgiveness. This discussion, steeped deep in scripture, gave seven characteristics of forgiveness …
WOW – tough stuff. But rewarding stuff.
Let me close with one underlining principle, we do this for just one reason and one reason only – because we were first forgiven. When you realize the depth of what Jesus did for you, for me, in spite of our wickedness (more like our disgustingness in our depravity) … when you realize the depth of His love, wow, why wouldn’t we show forgiveness to others. (for reference, read Matthew 18)