I know the title may sound shocking-but I believe it fits the cultural climate in which we are living. The late Timothy Keller brings this thinking out in his watershed book “Forgive, Why Should I and How Can I?”
We see the results of unforgiveness and the horrific results daily playing itself out right before our eyes through media, in our institutions, communities, cultural clashes, countries, churches, and in our homes.
What is at the root of the awful atrocities happening in Israel with Hamas, could it be deep seeded hate going back centuries between brothers Isaac and Ishmael? Will there ever be a diplomatic solution to remove the bitter roots running through the generational lines? Not unless true forgiveness happens.
And the more our world moves away from Biblical forgiveness the more hate will grow as an uncontrollable cancer poisoning and destroying souls in its path.
Keller builds his case for forgiveness on Jesus’ parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Matthew 18:21-35.
You remember how the master called for his worker’s debt of what would be in our day $400 billion dollars – more than the gross national product of 80% of the countries of the world today. Can you say, “that is a big debt!”
But when the servant pleads for mercy he is forgiven – That is amazing grace!
Yet, Jesus goes on to show how when the forgiven servant was owed $5.00 from another he would not forgive him the debt and sent him to prison. When the master found this out he said to the man:
“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.”
Jesus adds –
“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Jesus parable brings us back to the “Simple Gospel” where we find ourselves with a debt of 400 billion sins that are forgiven by Christ’s work on the cross to all who receive His mercy and grace. But when we choose not to forgive others an offense, so minute compared to our debt before a Holy Father God, it shows we don’t understand the enormous debt paid for us.
Keller shows how the early church lived this forgiveness out in a Roman culture where they were victims of horrific abuse and persecuted, they were the hated minority. And as a result of their forgiveness the Gospel of Jesus transformed an entire culture in a few hundred years.
If ever followers of Christ are needed as agents of forgiveness it is now. How we need to get back to truly seeing the weight of our sin, the price of Christ’s forgiveness, resulting in His bride spreading the healing fragrance of forgiveness to a bitter and angry world.
I challenge you to pick up and study Timothy Keller’s book. He does an amazing job showing how forgiveness and justice must work together as well.
Here are two more great books on forgiveness that you should add to your library:
“Total Forgiveness” by RT Kendall
“Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better” by Brant Hansen