11.21.2006

An Even Greater Forgiveness

One positive thing that has come out of the tragic murders of the
Amish schoolgirls earlier this year is that people have marveled at
the Amish's forgiving spirit. Even the most irreligious person had to
give credit for the strength and decency required to forgive such
savagery.

Why it hasn't translated to an awe of God's forgiveness of sinful men
and women is mostly because we simply don't equate our transgressions
to those of that cold-blooded murderer. In our post-Christian
society, we take the redemptive work of Jesus the Christ for granted
not because we think too small of the debt He paid but because we
think too small of the debt we owed.

Yet it is no less true today than when the Old Testament prophets or
St. Augustine or Jonathan Edwards spoke out: we are all depraved, and
our depravity demands God's wrathful judgment.

I recall attending a prayer meeting on the night of 9/11, and being
moved to my knees at this thought: if I, myself just a man, am full of
righteous indignation towards the terrorists, how much more should God
be in a position to judge our own sinful deeds? In that moment, I was
not experiencing a diminishing of the despicable nature of those
murderous actions, but rather a magnifying of the perfect nature of
God. And, myself just a man, I was overcome with fear and trembling.

We will see few deeds nobler than what the Amish have done since that
awful tragedy, in forgiving and calling for forgiveness and even
reaching out in love to the family of the murderer. But I know of at
least one nobler deed: a Lord and Savior who willingly, meekly, and
triumphantly submitted to the cross, for the purpose of satisfying an
even greater wrath and of securing an even greater forgiveness.

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