My brother was getting into his car on a Sunday morning with his son when he discovered someone had cowardly and not so artfully scratched a vulgar, four-letter word onto his gas cap cover. Frustrated, he got into the car and proceeded to “process” out loud with his son how selfish, brash, disrespectful, and offensive it was for someone to do that. Anger led to judgment, which led to condemnation.
To say that it was concerning to him was an understatement. That is, until he happened to glance in the back seat where he saw a video that had impacted him, which he was going to give to his pastor that morning. The talk was one given by Steve Saint, the son of martyred missionary Nate Saint who was ruthlessly killed by Auca indians when Steve was just a young boy. In the ensuing years, the man who had killed his father was welcomed into their home and became an intricate part of the Saint family. He ended up becoming a follower of Jesus. He was a recipient of grace and forgiveness, not because it was earned, which it never can be, but because it was needed. And it is always needed.
Even when someone kills your father with a spear.
Or permanently scratches a vulgarity into your car’s paint job.
I say permanently, because in that moment, my brother was overcome by the magnitude of grace, because of the Gospel, and for the Gospel. Where he had justifiably been indignant with the perpetrator, he now was humbled by a greater truth, a stronger force . . . forgiveness. He felt led to leave the offense indelibly etched into his car’s surface to serve as a reminder that forgiveness is the greater response. God gave him this acrostic from the vulgarity (Warning – Spoiler Alert): Forgiving Unto Christ’s Kingdom. While his wife and daughters were mortified, it would serve as a constant reminder every time he would fill up his car with gas that he had a choice to display the the Kingdom of God by forgiving others. Or, as would often happen, someone would ask about the artwork, and he had a chance to share how a small work of vandalism gave way to victory, that he exchanged one f-word for another, and it made all the difference.
Colossians 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” What gripped my brother that day was that he had been forgiven by God in a radical way, that he had a choice on what to do with what I like to think was really a gift from God, a gift “made from scratch”. An invitation to live forgiven by God, then to profoundly display that on to others who need forgiveness. Its the same invitation God gives us. So when God gives you a gift “made from scratch“, leverage it to live more fully aware and shaped by the lavish, life-giving forgiveness we have in Jesus. And give that gift on to others around you. Its one worth giving.