Let’s say that my favorite son, Edward, was gunned down by a man for no reason other than he wanted a target for his hatred on that terrible day. If I then hunted the murderer down and killed him with my own gun, that would be vengeance.
If instead of killing the murderer, I captured him and turned him over to the police who then put him on trial for Edward’s murder and found the murderer guilty, that would be justice.
If I showed up at the penalty phase of the trial and pleaded that the murderer would not be executed for murdering my son and if the jury agreed with my pleas, that would be mercy.
But if after all this, I walked up to the murderer who had been judged guilty and already had received mercy, and I then grabbed his hand, took him home, sat him at my banquet table, and said, “From now on, you shall take the place of my son. You will have all his benefits and will be an heir to all my wealth. I will love you just like I loved him.”
That is grace, which God freely offers us each day of our lives.
Now, if I were a black American, it would be almost impossible to overlook the words of Malcolm X and not seek vengeance for the four hundred years of horrendous treatment by white Americans which has helped create who I am today. It would take a miracle not to avenge myself.
It would even be harder to go along with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and accept simple justice, and then extend mercy to white Americans for all of their transgressions, wiping the slate forever clean of the harshest reparations against them.
Yet, to rise to the next level where I reach out, hold white Americans’ hands, and say, “You’re my brothers. I will lay down my life for any of you and if you need something, just let me know and I will do my best to get it. My heart is always open to your needs because I love you,” − this would be beyond any grace or love I could ever bring forth.
And yet, this is exactly what I believe the Lord is going to ask from black Americans.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
(Continued in Part 12)