I watched a movie last night with my family that followed the predictable plot of hero-gets-picked-on-so hero-gets-revenge-and-overcomes. Many of our movies and TV shows contain this same plot played over and over again with a different background. It seems to be a prevailing idea in our society that when wrong is done to someone they have the right to seek revenge. Yet, I find it incredibly ironic that our society is so stuck on the idea of justice and revenge when God has shown us so much mercy and grace.
It's like the parable Jesus told of the servant and the king. The king brought his servant before him and demanded his loan of a million dollars be paid back to him. The servant did not have the money so the king was going to throw him into jail until his family could pay it off but the servant begged the king for mercy. For some reason the king forgave the debt and let the servant go. However, just outside, the servant came across a friend who owed him $2. This same servant, who was just forgiven 1 million dollars demanded his friend pay back the $2. When his friend couldn't, the servant had him thrown into jail. When the king heard of this he became so angry he reversed his decision and put the servant into jail.
Jesus told us that we are to give as we have received. We have been given love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and we are to live our life in such a way that we are freely giving these things out as they are needed. That is what it means to follow Jesus.
Now I am being unfair to criticize our society for doing something that only comes natural to it. It is a natural thing to seek justice and revenge when we are offended but Christians are far from natural. We are a new creation, natural made supernatural. We now have the nature of Jesus seeded in us by the Holy Spirit and that makes us different from our society. Only, we are forgetting we are different. We are watching so much TV and movies without thinking about what we are watching that we are becoming ordinary again.. We just accept what we see as being normal. It is normal, for the world, not for us. Even in the Old Testament we find this instruction:
"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18)
Much of what Jesus taught had this as it's undercurrent where love prevails over any idea of justice and revenge. Jesus asked us to consider how we would want to be treated if we were in the position of the one who had offended us:
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)
I realize it is hard but we are to do exactly what Jesus did. When they were nailing him to the cross, what did he do? He asked his Father to forgive them. It is contrary to the Spirit of God in us to seek anything other than the best for everyone we encounter, including our enemy. It doesn't matter what they have done, we are to forgive them and move on. When we have been forgiven so much, we can't afford to do anything else. Follow Jesus' example and love as he loved us. We don't deserve it you know. We are ugly, smelly and not very intelligent when it comes to God, yet he made a decision to love us, to forgive and surround us with his grace. Think about this the next time you start calling out for justice against someone who has offended you.