I expect never to hear of a real-life example of human love more remarkable and inspiring than that of an elderly couple interviewed on TV several years ago. Their beautiful daughter had been brutally assaulted and then murdered by a young man. He was arrested and brought to trial. It was an open & shut case: he was guilty. The deceased girl’s parents were asked how they felt toward her assailant. And this gentle, getting-on-in-years couple responded, He is God’s child also, even though what he did to our daughter was horrible beyond words. We don’t want him to be executed or to suffer the rest of his life. We are praying for him, that he’ll repent of his crime and accept the grace of God in rebuilding his life so that he can help others, no longer hurt them. (It still gives me a thrill to recall and repeat that.)
If that isn’t a modern version of Jesus’ death on the cross, I don’t know what is. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Just imagine what kind of world ours would be if every human being had that generous, loving, forgiving, life-giving attitude toward all others!
But that’s precisely what we said yes to when we decided to become Christians.
It’s possible, you know, that, although we were baptized and well instructed in our faith, some of us, maybe many of us, never did really decide personally to become followers of Jesus.
We learn that we’ve made that decision when we look at someone’s crime or evil act and say, “That’s probably the worst thing this person has ever done; but how much good she must also have accomplished. I pray that she will recover from this terrible decision, make amends for what she has done and move on to a good and unselfishly loving life.”
Against the background of a maze of legal nit-picking, Jesus spoke of only two laws: first, love God, your creator; the second: love everyone else, without exception. Give extravagantly, he taught us; resolve always to forgive, not merely to punish; reward in excess of merit; let your love go beyond the requirements of justice.
It’s as if God were saying through Jesus, “You are made in my image & likeness. And I am infinitely more than just; I am loving and merciful. I am forgetful of your faults and always aware of your marvelous potential. You are less likely to sense my presence in the good order of a tribunal than you are in the splendid splashes of skies and forests and the bottomless well of a mother’s love!”
The Scriptures tell of signs & wonders the early disciples were performing and observing after Jesus’ resurrection from death. Among them there surely had to be the “miracles” of persons acting in ways that are certainly not normally human. They were returning love for hatred, accepting hurts with patience and even cheerfulness, giving without thought to cost, forgiving with no strings attached, and rejoicing in the success of others.
People couldn’t help but notice.
The age of miracles has not passed.