The transforming power of forgiveness is evident to all, even if only by its absence in so many relationships. I have lived in a culture where taking revenge is one of the marks of valour and of being a real man. In this culture I have also witnessed how choosing forgiveness over revenge can transform tragedy into triumph and blessing for all involved.
I will never forget the story my friend "S" told of what finally drew him into the embrace of God who revealed himself in Jesus. He had grown up in a culture and religious tradition where revenge and getting even were valued above forgiveness. He despised the Christian faith and began to read the Scriptures in a quest to find the evidence he needed to denounce it.
When he came to this text where Jesus, hanging on the cross about to die asks his heavenly Father to forgive those responsible for his death, his heart was broken. Such a loving and gracious response to terrorism and cruelty was unimaginable and in response, with tears in his eyes he said, "I love this man." What other response could there be to such great love, especially when we recognize ourselves in the cruelty and rejection that caused his death.
Hart is the Director of Scripture Translation for the Canadian Bible Society