I read the following quote yesterday. A theologian by the name of Soong-Chan Rah suggested that "before grace can be extended, forgiveness must be asked." This led to the following online response to Christianity Today magazine: "If Jesus Christ had taken such an approach, we would all be hopeless."
I cannot say that forgiveness comes easily for me. It is truly something that I have to choose to obey. But I have never understood people who want to limit extending forgiveness like the above theologian. It seems SO unChristlike.
Interestingly, yesterday I also began reading Philip Yancey's new book, What Good is God? In it he references a website called ATFP.org (Adopt a terrorist for Prayer). I went to the website, run by a Christian who serves in the U.S. military. I must say, I had to stop and think about this for a while. But I think this guy is right.
Here is an exerpt from the homepage of his site:
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" Matthew 5: 44
Why Pray for a Terrorist? Why Pray for a Sponsor of Terrorism?
Where is the Christian response to terrorism? If the struggle against violence done in the name of Islam is primarily spiritual, then defeating it requires a spiritual response.
This site features FBI and State Department identified terrorists and terrorism sponsors. Terrorism inspires fear. According to Jesus, the antidote of fear is love.
When we hate, we are reactive victims. When we love we seize the initiative. Love for country helps soldiers to risk their lives. Love for children enables parents to discipline them without being intimidated. Love for us took Jesus to the cross. Love for enemies will give courage to face, overcome, and transform them and the environment that breeds them.
Historically, Stephen was the first fatality in terrorism directed against Jesus' followers. As Stephen died from stoning, he prayed, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Later, Paul, who had supervised Stephen's stoning, met Jesus in a vision and repented.
Can we pray like Stephen prayed then? Would Paul have repented if Stephen hadn't prayed?
If you are interested, I would encourage you to visit the website. Peace.