In our interview with Os Guinness this week, he spoke of his admiration for America even though he is not himself an American, because of the revolution of 1776 and the great experiment of democracy which formed a vision for the country and a government that adopted a biblical basis for governing that at least attempted to take into account the innate sin nature born into the human race. This is why we have the checks and balances of three branches of government in the Hebrew tradition of the monarchy, the priesthood and the prophets.
However, Os also lamented where America is right now, exhibiting more of the characteristics of the godless French revolution of 1789 than the one our own founding fathers staged.
A much better way to right wrongs is the way of truth and reconciliation. If wrongs have been committed (and they have) they need to be treated with confession, forgiveness and reconciliation rather than weaponizing the victims and leaving them to go settle their own scores. That only produces more violence and more retaliation — a never-ending cycle. Confession and forgiveness is the only way to stop this vicious cycle.
A case in point would be the Truth and Reconciliation Commission founded in South Africa in order to dismantle apartheid and attempt to create a healing between blacks and whites in that country. At televised public hearings, witnesses who were identified as victims of human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences. Perpetrators of violence could also speak, asking for forgiveness and requesting amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution. In this way, a vast amount of devastation and bloodshed was avoided. The biblical system is a process by which not only scores can be settled, but enemies can become friends. Forgiveness is more powerful that hate.
The truly sad thing about America right now is that we are seeing very little of this sentiment in the public square. We are seeing anger, violence, resentment, bullying and payback. Where is Nelson Mandela when we need him?
Well, there is no Nelson Mandela right now to offer leadership, nor is there an Abraham Lincoln, but that is where we come in. That leaves you and me as the ones to exhibit repentance, confession, forgiveness, respect and dignity for all who are made in God’s image. True followers of Jesus Christ will be the ones to reach across barriers and across the “aisle” to love their enemies. We can’t change the world, but we can change our world — the one in which we live and move and have our being — and manifest a different attitude from what is prevalent right now.
The time is now and the opportunity is great.