Sunday, August 8, 2010


Imagine what life would be like if people who call themselves Christians practiced the teachings of Jesus?

I had a conversation with a friend last night, totally impromptu, didn't plan on discussing the 'Mosque at Ground Zero."

Earlier that day I was reading Steve Sherwood's book "Embraced: Prodigals at the Cross." (Buy it. It's really good.)

In the chapter titled "Does Revenge Have the Power to Heal?" Steve talks about the what transpires in the nation of South Africa after Nelson Mandela is elected President. If you don't know, here's the scoop.

In 1948 South Africa formalized polices that had loosely been in place since the 1800's that basically stripped all Black South Africans of their rights. During the decades of formal "apartheid" (which means separateness) thousands of black South Africans were unjustly imprisoned, tortured, or killed by government security forces.
Apartheid greatly curtailed their opportunities to educated, hold most jobs, and own property. They were prisoners in their own country. (see the movie District 9)

But this oppression ended in 1994. Due to the suffering they faced, many believed that the nation would erupt in violence with the black Afrikaans's seeking revenge for the many years of oppression.

Due to the work of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu a better way was sought and established. The work is detailed in Tutu's book "No Future Without Forgiveness."

Basically Tutu and his followers set "Ubuntu" which is a tribal custom that translates into the meaning of generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. Share what you have. I am a part of you and you are a part of me.

Out of this quest for Ubuntu came the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

People who had wronged someone could seek amnesty if they were willing to come before the commission AND those who they had wronged, either the victims themselves or their relatives.

These sessions would be recorded as the perpetrators confessed their transgressions to the victims. Forgiveness, amnesty and forgetfulness would follow. Only 1000 people took the opportunity to receive amnesty.

Watch the movie "Invictus" to get a glimpse of the result of this process.

And while the entire county did not participate in this process, for those who did the result was healing.

And apparently peace spread in such a way that the country was spared of the violence that could have resulted.

So the Mosque being proposed two blocks from ground zero: surf the internet and you will understand that this has created a huge outcry.

What if those who follow Jesus invited the members of that Mosque to participate in a Truth and Reconciliation Commission? What if those of us who follow the teachings of Jesus offered those in that Islamic congregation an olive branch. What if we said to them "In the name of our savior, Jesus Christ, we forgive those who killed so many people in the name of Allah. We chose from this day forward to forget the pain that was caused by some who so filled with hate chose to murder thousands.

What if instead of standing on the principles of our country, we stood for the teachings of Jesus - turn the other cheek, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you?


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