“I really believe that when someone else does us harm, we’re connected to that mistreatment like a chain. Because forgiveness is nothing less than an act of fidelity to an evil-combating campaign. So it’s not an act of niceness. It’s not being a doormat. It really to me is more badass than that. Maybe retaliation, or holding on to anger, about the harm done to me doesn’t actually combat evil. Maybe it feeds it.
Because in the end, if we’re not careful, we can actually absorb the worst of our enemy, and on some level, even start to become them. So what if forgiveness, rather than being like a pansy way of saying, it’s OK, is actually a way of wielding bolt-cutters and snapping the chain that links us? Like it is saying, what you did was so not OK that I refuse to be connected to it anymore.
Forgiveness is about being a freedom fighter, and free people are dangerous people. Free people aren’t controlled by the past. Free people laugh more than others. Free people see beauty where others do not. Free people are not easily offended. Free people are unafraid to speak truth to stupid. Free people are not chained to resentments.
That’s worth fighting for. There really is a light that shines in the darkness, and that the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it.”
“Resurrection is the result of death’s defeat; forgiveness, the result of sin’s defeat. Those who learn to forgive discover that they are not only offering healing to others. They are receiving it in themselves. Resurrection is happening inside them. The wrong done to them is not permitted to twist their lives out of shape. Forgiveness isn’t weakness. It was and is a great strength. Resurrection and forgiveness together are vital for understanding the extraordinary and large-scale result of the victory won on the cross. The nations of the world were now set free to worship the one true God.”
― NT Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion
Forgiveness and justice seem incongruous. In fact, they are often treated as clashing forces. Justice demands balance and restitution. Forgiveness accepts imbalance and releases debt. Justice delivers fair judgement. Forgiveness extends mercy, grace, and kindness. Yet, when we treat forgiveness as something incongruous with justice, we display a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel and Jesus’ death on the cross.
In the world where the only assumed options to injustice are fight or flight (i.e. acceptance, avoidance, retribution, or retaliation). Jesus offers us a third-way; forgiveness. Forgiveness is a practice that is at the center of God’s mission in putting the world right. Forgiveness is not turning a blind eye to injustice. God forgives, not because he doesn’t care about injustice or sin, but precisely because he does care. God forgives because he refuses to let injustice and sin have the last word in the way the world is moving. God plan is greater than fairness or balance. God’s plan is redemption, reconciliation, and the uniting of all things in Christ.
Forgiveness breaks the cycle of injustice and sin by denying the right to act upon its power to build walls between people or respond in kind toward the offender. Forgiveness denies the right to right to resentment or revenge and instead returns offense and injustice with blessing, compassion, kindness, and benevolence. Forgiveness is central to how God is working to put the world right.