Is there an example to follow that can provide a model for forgiveness and the restoration of peace and harmony?

Program Transcript

My grandparents came to the USA from Karpathos, Russia
sometime early in the last century to escape the Communist Revolution. That was
a good move – no one knows for certain how many people lost their lives during
that revolution and the reign of Stalin that followed. Families were torn
apart, their loved ones tortured, murdered or lost forever in the concentration
camps. It is not the kind of thing I like to think about. But when I hear the
talk of revolution in modern America by youthful protestors, I wonder if they
know what they are asking for?

Because my grandparents emigrated, I grew up in
freedom and relative safety. Others have not been so fortunate. Do you remember
Pol Pot and the Cambodian Holocaust?  Pol
Pot was a Maoist revolutionary who served as the prime minister and
undisputed leader of Cambodia from 1976 to 1979. He imposed radical communism, ruthlessly
deporting urban dwellers to the countryside to work in collective farms and
forced labor projects. Overwork, malnutrition, poor medical care, and
executions resulted in the deaths of approximately 21% of the Cambodian
population under his three-year premiership.

How can we forget the incredible events of four
months in 1994 in the small African nation of Rwanda. The poorer Hutu majority
armed with knives, bayonets, and machetes, began to systematically kill the
wealthier Tutsi minority. They had slaughtered nearly a million of the Tutsis
before the bloodshed was stopped. Rwanda’s prisons are still bulging with
prisoners awaiting judgment for the genocide. The backlogged court system has
sent some of the accused back to their homes and neighborhoods, The people who
had destroyed so many lives and families now live beside the few surviving
relatives of the very men, women, and children they killed.

Genocide is a monumental crime, and the effects
linger on for generations. How do you heal communities and whole nations that
have suffered like this? Is there an example to follow that can provide a model
for forgiveness and the restoration of peace and harmony? Is there a power
strong enough to really establish a new start after such atrocities?

The answer is yes! This is precisely what Jesus had
in mind when he was being nailed to the cross, and uttered these remarkable
words: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Out of his trust
in the power of his heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit to make all things new
(Rev. 21: 5), he overcame the evil by absorbing it into himself, allowing God’s
judgment to condemn it to death, and opened the way for us to enter into new
life in him—reconciled to God and to each other.

Christian writer Miroslav Volf, himself familiar
with horrendous violence in Croatia and Serbia, describes forgiveness as the
exchange of one form of suffering for another. This is what we see in the life of
Jesus. Volf writes in his book Exclusion
and Embrace,
“More than just
the passive suffering of an innocent person, the passion of Christ is the agony
of a tortured soul and a wrecked body offered as a prayer for the forgiveness
of the torturers.”

Jesus showed us that the way to life lies in taking
up his forgiveness and his work of reconciliation, not in executing our revenge
and retribution. God is not some distant cosmic sheriff waiting for a moment to
exact more suffering upon the world he created. Jesus summed it up in what is perhaps
the most famous sentence in the Bible. “For
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the
world through him”
(John 3:17). And by the Spirit of Jesus, we are given
the privilege to share in his very own ongoing ministry of saving

I’m Joseph Tkach speaking of LIFE.