Shaking Hands With the Past. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (5:18-19)


Gettysburg

"Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Rom 5:18-19, NIV2)

Forgiveness is impossible for most people. After all, they have been hurt quite deeply, and the offender merits hefty consequences! Still, the One who was most hurt by our actions, the One we turned our backs on, not only willingly forgave us, He even paid the price of our offences by having His precious Son die for us on a lonely cross so that we didn't have to live in unforgiveness forever. And this is not the end of it. Not only did He pay the price for our rebellious strikes, He goes a step further: He pursues us with His love and encourage each one of us to accept His forgiveness. Never have we seen such a love on our planet!

Lieutenant Thomas C. Holland shouted to his Company G, 28th Virginia Infantry, "Come on boys!" While he broke through the Union line on cemetery Ridge during the Gettysburg attack. What he didn't expect was to be shot, with a bullet piercing his cheek and exiting the back of his head. No wonder he ungraciously fell from his horse.

He was urgently carried to a Union field hospital where he later miraculously recovered. His 88 men didn't fare that well, however. 81 were listed as killed, wounded, or missing. That lieutenant had lots of reasons to hate his enemy. They were completely merciless. Still, 50 years after the battle, Thomas returned to the same spot where he fell, met the union soldier who had shot him and shook hands with him.

Forgiveness sure frees the one who has been hurt. Love is always way better than hatred. Imagine if our God had been unwilling to forgive us! Where would we be?

Rob Chaffart

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