The Front Page

Welcome to the Front Page, the digital cover of the Wayne Press.  Here we will share with you things that can't be captured in our newsletter--videos, music, color photographs--as well as articles that reflect on faith and life.  

 

Forgiveness Works!

As an associate youth director with a slight case of Type A personality, I like to get our brochures for our retreats out months ahead of time.  The only problem is that God has this way of consistently interfering with topics that I chose month’s prior, that I had already shared in the youth advertisements.  He has this beautiful way of revealing Himself through youth.  He reveals a topic that is relevant to their lives in this specific time of their journey.   

In the last three weeks, I have had multiple conversations with youth asking what it feels like to actually forgive.  They want to know how to be authentic in their forgiveness.  Some youth go so far to tell me, “Maybe I do not want to forgive that person for wronging me, maybe I want them to suffer as they have made me suffer.”   

As I began to completely re-write my High School Fall Retreat curriculum, I was reminded of a lecture I received from Dr. Paul Alexander on Old Testament historical justice starting with Cain and Abel.  The justice demands for the Ancient Near East were sevenfold retribution, which means, whatever was done to you shall be done 7x worse to your oppressor.  This 7x retribution soon becomes a chain reaction, and is still relevant in some countries.  So Moses comes and changes the law to one fold retribution, ‘an eye for an eye’, if someone kills your brother, you can kill their brother.  Then Jesus comes with a third choice, He quotes Moses in Matthew 5:38-48,   

 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...”   

Jesus came to show us a new way, a more life giving way of living.  The way of forgiveness, said very well by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “You don’t seek to destroy the oppressor, but redeem them.” When we engage with our oppressor we can seek to redeem them, which can, with time, transform both them and you.    

Glenn H. Stasson and David P. Gushee share a story in their textbook, Kingdom Ethics, about a family who’s son was killed.  This family wanted justice, and the justice they sought was ‘an eye for an eye.’ They wanted the murderer to die for killing their son, thinking this would some how redeem their hurting hearts.  The murderer got what the family wanted, but this did not cure them of resentment and bitterness.  What they needed was the power of the Holy Gospel to lead them to forgiveness and healing, from a supportive institution like a Church or Counseling center. Forgiveness empowers us to seek transformation in people and not revenge and retribution, which slowly begins to eat away at your spirit.  An article written by Gerry Johnstone and Daniel W. Van Ness, The Meaning of Restorative Justice, which influenced the law of restorative justice in New Zealand, has a beautiful definition of restorative justice.  They believe there should be three elements to justice: “(1) direct encounter between offenders and victims of crime, (2) repair of damages to both, and (3) a hope for transformation of punitive culture toward a culture of compassion and caring for societies miscreants.”   

I challenge you, when you are faced with oppression, to be creative in seeking the restorative justice that Jesus exemplified.  

Posted by Sarah Hostetter at 7:00 AM
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