Who Deserves a Second Chance?
If you are anything like me, you have struggled with forgiving the folks in life that have abused you, taken advantage of you, hurt you, have regularly offended you, speaks poorly of you, hurts your family members or someone close to you.
Some folks seem more worthy of my forgiveness than others. So, my natural tendency is to forgive the ones that are worthy of forgiveness and not the rest. That seems justifiable and logical. Seems fair enough, right? There is not any real need to forgive someone that is down right evil and has no desire to change their actions, right?
In 2006, a very tragic thing occurred in Nickel Mines, PA. Charles Roberts, the local milk truck delivery man, stormed into a one-room school house and began shooting. He shot ten young girls, killing five, and then killed himself. The families of the Amish school girls were devastated. We can barely imagine their grief.
If anyone had a reason to withhold forgiveness, it certainly would seem the Amish families of Nickel Mines had as much justification as anyone. How did they respond? They refused to degrade his character. Half of the people that attended his funeral were Amish including the parents who had just buried the children a few days prior. Amish families visited the shooter's widow and carried her meals and flowers, and they contributed to a fund for her family. When asked about their views, the Amish explained that if the shooter had lived, they would have wanted him locked up - not out of revenge, but for the safety of other children.
A book has been written about the shooting and the Amish response - Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher.
Are the Amish right? Are they setting an example for the rest of the world that we should be taking to heart? Are we allowed to pick and choose who we forgive? Are we obligated to give grace if we accept God's grace in our lives?
The Bible has a couple of things to say on the issue:
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matthew 6:14-15
People of the Second Chance(POTSC) is launching the NEVER BEYOND Poster Series: 25 posters representing well known historical, current and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society. This campaign consists of digital and print posters and the full collection will eventually be displayed as a touring art exhibit.
The campaign draws out themes of forgiveness, grace and what a pathway to a second chance looks like.
The image at the top of this post is the first of their 25 poster series. Do you recognize the image? It is Casey Anthony. You may recall she was accused of murdering her two year old daughter, Caylee and was found not guilty. Casey Anthony ABC News Article
Could you give Casey Anthony a second chance? Would the Amish families in Nickels Mine, PA? As a Christian, are we called to give her a second chance?