The best witness people have is kindness

Published 6:59pm Saturday, May 4, 2013

We’re yet grieved over events in Boston and wonder how depraved people could execute such carnage.

I believe there are two models in scripture for dealing with evil. The first is that we stand strong against it.

The book of Esther in the Old Testament tells of the evil Haman who engineered a holocaust against the Jewish exiles in Persia. Esther asked the king to let her people defend themselves, which they did. In the New Testament, Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and the Romans made plans to beat him. He refused such treatment and asserted his citizenship privileges.

We’ve taken a stand against evil in recent years by opposing sexual harassment. It’s true that many women have been treated shabbily in the workforce, but now we have laws to protect. I want my wife and daughter to have recourse if they were mistreated on the job, and so does everyone else.

And the same is true for the epidemic of bullying. Bullying demeans self-esteem and personhood. According to ABC News, 30 percent of teen-agers have faced bullying and Yale University reported bullied teens are at greater risk for suicide. We’ve also learned about cyber-bullying when teen-agers have ganged up through social media to harm others.

I believe we must face down bullies. For the most part they melt away when confronted.

But a second model is what Jesus outlined in the Sermon on the Mount when he taught turning the other cheek and going the second mile.

This is what James meant when he exhorted us to control our tongues and our anger (James 1: 19-20) and what Paul meant when he reminded us that vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19).

Pope John Paul II was shot four times in May, 1981 by a Turkish national, Mehmet Agca. The pope survived, said he forgave his attacker and asked people to pray for him. Later the pope visited Agca in jail and the men developed a friendship. Before his death, the pope asked the government to pardon Agca and send him home.

The pope undoubtedly understood that part of his physical healing involved forgiveness.

Interestingly, two months before the pope’s shooting, President Reagan was shot. He told Michael Deaver that he realized he must forgive his attacker if he was going to be well. Alabama Gov. George Wallace said something similar after his attempted assassination.

The greatest example of forgiveness is Jesus who from the cross prayed for his tormentors and asked God not to lay this sin to their account.

The best witness the people of God have is their goodness and kindness. Not only are we exhorted to love one another, but to love the unlovely as well.

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