Philip Yancey, author of What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters
The decade since 9/11 has taught us the limits of force. Imposing democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan has come at a terrible cost to all parties, with no guarantee of long-term success. Meanwhile, Tunisia and Egypt gained freedom almost overnight in a grassroots protest against powerful regimes.
As Christians, we believe in a counterforce of grace. Lewis Smedes and others have identified three stages of forgiveness: first, recognize the worth of the person you are forgiving; second, surrender the right to get even; third, put yourself on the same side as the one who wronged you. Increasingly, I'm convinced that we need more of this attitude toward those who seek to harm us.
In 1999, Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines was burned to death by a Hindu mob in Orissa, India. In 2007, German missionary Tilman Geske was tortured and murdered by five Turkish fanatics. The widows of both men made sensational headlines in those countries by repeating the words of Jesus: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I am not a pacifist; I believe that we must pursue justice. Yet a Christian history stained by anti-Semitism—holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few—teaches us the terrible consequences of not following Jesus' way. We dare not do to Muslims what we have, to our shame, done to Jews.
* * *
Harry R. Jackson Jr., international presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches
I will never forget evacuating our ministry's downtown offices in Washington, D.C., on 9/11. For the first time in my life, I watched the U.S. population collectively experience a sense of ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more