Forgiveness is tough business. This past week I was part of two challenging conversations about the ending of the Amber Guyger trial where Botham Jean’s brother offered his forgiveness of Ms Guyger for her murder of his brother in his own apartment. Opinions and feelings were all over the place with both – was forgiveness justified? Did it let her “off the hook”? Was it an example of the radical love of Christ as Mr Jean not only offered her his forgiveness but reminded her of Jesus’ forgiveness as well? There were a lot of different perspectives to say the least and I am grateful for both groups who dug deep into this question over the last week – all the layers involved.
Jesus didn’t make it simple – “how many times should we forgive” asked Peter. “Seven times?” No, Jesus said…”77 times.” Some things feel like they are easy to forgive and to forgive some things 77 times isn’t that hard. But what about something like Ms Guyger’s murder of Botham Jean? What about the shooting in recent days of Atatiana Jefferson in Ft Worth, Texas? What about someone who actively promoted and furthered causes like white nationalism? That was a question that rose for me as I read this book, “Rising Out of Hatred” that details that very thing. Even as Derek Black recants the worldview in which he was raised and promoted, the question arises, what about forgiveness? How does that factor in? How can that happen?
As I read this amazing story of what conversation and resistance can do to change hearts, I saw that struggle in Derek’s life and in the lives of those who were alongside him. It is something like this where forgiveness gets harder and harder. This is when forgiving just once feels near-impossible, much less 76 more times. But change can happen. It happened in Derek’s life. It has happened in others’ lives. In the power of the Gospel, it can happen.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for a time when we are pushing each other further and further apart.