Who Would You Give A Second Chance?

If you know me, and you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know that when it comes to ‘sin’ I don’t believe that one is worse than another. I also don’t believe it is our business to determine what is deserving of Heaven and what is deserving of Hell; I like to leave that up to Jesus. I am one that chooses to live my life as best I can, loving people as best I can, and believing in the hope that is found in my Creator. I have a tattoo on my foot that I got as a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient, that His love knows no bounds, and it is with those truths that I am forgiven. With all of that said, I am having a difficult time with People of the Second Chance’s latest Never Beyond Series.

I am a supporter of POTSC’s mission: to overthrow judgement and liberate love. While none of us deserve God’s grace, it is still given. POTSC poster series features a series of people asking the question “Who Would You Give A Second Chance?” Normally, I would jump right on this, because I understand the intention behind the series, and I understand the message; however, it makes me feel uneasy, but not in a “I need Jesus to help me give this person grace” kind of way, more in a “What the crap are you people talking about” kind of way. I think how I treat someone if I ran into them at a grocery store has nothing to do with second chances. Does that make sense? If I saw Casey Anthony in the aisle right next to the oatmeal and the granola bars and she started talking to me, it is my responsibility to show her God’s love because that is what I am called to do, but does that mean that I would trust her to be alone with my children? Definitely not. Because Trust has nothing to do with Grace. I talked to my Dad about it yesterday explaining that it really isn’t about me and who I see fit to deserve a second chance, it is between them and Jesus, so here you go, my wrestled thoughts about all of this.

The first picture in the series: Casey Anthony.

 While again, I understand the intention of this campaign, and while the Florida Justice System has decided that she is “not guilty” of killing her child, to me, it isn’t really about that. It isn’t my place to judge, I realize that, but I haven’t heard Casey Anthony ask for forgiveness for any of it. Whether she killed her child or not, I think it is a complete contradiction to say that she just gets a second chance without ever exercising repentance. I do not know what Casey Anthony has done in her own time, and I have no idea whether her heart feels remorse for her actions, but I do know that she neglected her child. Instead of calling the police the moment she realized her daughter was missing, she kept secrets. Yes, I believe that Jesus’ grace is sufficient, even for Casey Anthony, but is her heart repentant? It isn’t about me and who I think God will give a second chance to–because again, I leave that up to Jesus, but why are we ignoring the Bible here? Much of the book of Psalms are cries for forgiveness, asking for a clean and pure heart, and seeking the Lord for restoration. And in 1 John, if we freely admit that we have sinned and confess them, God by his nature and his promises will cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

The posters also featured Mike Tyson and Darth Vadar, but it was the photo of the symbolic KKK hood that spurred me to write this post today. Did the KKK renounce their disgusting white supremest views?

 They are a hate group, and I think we can all agree that they are anti-Jesus. So is this poster talking about the group? Because no, I don’t believe this group gets a second chance, or are we talking about the people in the group? My Dad and I talked about George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, a member of the KKK, who later in life renounced his views on segregation and declared himself a born again Christian in the 1970’s. He publicly admitted that he was wrong and that he needed to seek love and forgiveness for his actions. I believe that George Wallace was given a second chance from Jesus. Robert Byrd, Senator from West Virginia, an outspoken racist and member of the KKK, while he never said anything about coming to Jesus, he did make an effort to communicate that he also was wrong. While he voted against the Civil Rights Bill, later, greatly opposed President Bill Clinton’s gay rights efforts, and even later, continued to make comments that left people still questioning if he really believed that he was wrong, he did make an effort. I do not know where that left him, but I guess that too is up to Jesus. We can talk about specific members of the KKK, but many of them went on to die just as hateful as they were in life, and so to answer the question, Who Would You Give A Second Chance? It would not be them. Do I think that murderers are in another category? No, definitely not. I am usually the first to speak out against Capital Punishment because I don’t believe we have the right to decide to end someone’s life. I would prefer to give someone as much time and as many chances as possible to come to know Jesus, but that does not mean that it is acceptable. I think by saying everyone gets a second chance we are saying that it is acceptable, and I do not believe that is what Jesus had in mind.

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Comments

  1. There is a difference between forgiveness and grace, and that difference has everything to do with forgiveness being entirely conditional. Grace is unmerited favor: we do nothing to deserve it, and it is given freely. Forgiveness, on the other hand, cannot be received without first asking for it. Forgiveness is circumstantial; grace is universal.

    On some level forgiveness is benefits the ones who were wronged. It gives us a sense of a peace about an emotionally confusing situation. It happens out of necessity: the need to move on, to heal. It’s an act of self preservation to forgive those that don’t ask for it, and it makes us feel better to let that baggage go. But it’s not true forgiveness. It’s the freedom from guilt, grief, and the laying down of the burdens that shackle us. If no one has repented, it is not forgiveness.

    Forgiveness is entirely relational. It benefits both the giver and the receiver. Can I forgive al-Queda for hating America so much they destroyed more than 3,000 lives and completely changed the trajectory of our countries history? I cannot. Nor can I forgive Westboro Baptist for being hate-mongers who twist the Scripture into a tool of Satan. The KKK commits crimes against entire groups of people and, therefore, against humanity in general. They do so willfully and unapologetically in the name of a God they clearly do not understand.

    Casey Anthony did nothing to me. What do I have to forgive? O.J. Simpson exhibited shady behavior, but the state of California declared him innocent. Michael Jackson, ditto. For what should they apologize? Allegations? Being thought of as scum by the general population? It seems to me that we should apologize to them for being so judgmental and for letting our own belief system skew the lens through which we view them.

    Which leads us back to grace. Grace abounds with Jesus Christ, and through him we should see the world. It’s our own junk that gets in the way of seeing everyone as deserving redemption, Westboro Baptist inciters included. They receive grace, not forgiveness. And I don’t think it’s our place to determine who receives that grace. God possess the kind of reasoning that I do not understand. It’s not my place to judge and condemn, though I do that regularly. It’s my place to do my best to be an example of grace, and to show grace as it’s been shown to me.

    • We talk at length about these sort of things, but I love your point that it isn’t our job to forgive people who didn’t do anything to us. As you said, Casey Anthony, OJ, MJ, the only people they should be responsible for making apologies to are the people they hurt, and that doesn’t include me.

      And yes, we are incapable of showing Grace in the way that God does. We can try to be gracious, but the level to which he freely excuses our mistakes, however minuscule or massive, we will never be able to extend it in the same way. But, we can try.

  2. On the topic of forgiveness, here is a clip from a sermon from Mars Hill. It’s something that I agree with and think is a solid thing for everyone to watch:

    http://marshill.com/media/luke/the-lords-prayer/10-things-that-forgiveness-is-not

  3. PS- It hits the part about Trust & Forgiveness in the 7 minute mark too

  4. Thanks ladies, both, for writing at length about this. I stretched a bit more in my concept of grace (and forgiveness) from reading your words.

  5. PS…

    For me, this POTSC series is about being in the practice of rooting out my judgments. I was not in the habit of doing so at all prior to this. In fact, I am disgusted by how little I was even aware I was judging those around me. Both in person, and those I’ve never even met…like the ones illustrated in these 25 different posters.

    Yet while growing in this area, I had completely overlooked how it’s not my responsibility to forgive these folks. I’ve never even met them. Like you say, Denise, it’s a judgment just to think they need my forgiveness. Truth. 100%. No question about it.

    So as stated at first, I appreciate the discussion. I’ve met you two also. So it doesn’t feel so nebulous. Some conversation in the ether, that I just happened to stumble upon. Two real people, whom I respect, voicing their faith, for others (like me) to chew on and digest.

    Gross analogy, I know.

    Thanks again.

    • Thank you for your input Caleb. I think as you said, this poster series has challenged people in unexpected ways. While I try to deliberately refrain from judgement, this series somehow felt like I was forced to. Not the intention of the campaign clearly, just my own response. But, even with that said, I still learned something about myself and how I view grace and forgiveness.

  6. I’m a bit late in reading this post, but really enjoy seeing a sneak peek into your life in the Big City. I assume this series is a poster series in New York that’s been going on?

    In curiosity, I watched a video on Vimeo on what POTSC mission is and also watched one testimony and found myself to be a bit confused. In short, it seems like it’s more of a support group for anyone and everyone who wants to come together and love each other and other people. It’ll be “messy” so the video says. Nothing about Christ or the Gospel was mentioned.

    I then re-read your post and how you agree with their mission: to overthrow judgement and liberate love, but yet the campaign still has you a bit uneasy.

    It seems easy to get into word semantics about what exactly does forgiveness, grace, and trust really mean, which are all WONDERFUL things and evidence of the Gospel, but what I think is the larger issue here is their mission for wanting to proclaim a message of “second chances”. To overthrow judgement and extend love is completely refuting the Gospel.

    This main issue I have is that this places a false dichotomy between judgement and love. The gospel teaches us that God the Father’s liberating love did not overthrow judgement, but instead laid judgement upon the Son. Judgement and love are not competing, they are co-operating.

    The dangerous thing about a message like this is that it has so much right. But, it excludes essential truths of the Gospel.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opening it up for discussion. I just wish we could meet for coffee like we did years ago! Hope all is well. Miss you.

    • People of the Second Chance poster series has been online (its not a New York thing). Their mission does not make me uneasy, this series did, but it challenged me. My instinct upon seeing the KKK hood was repulsion, that is judgement. POTSC is rooted in the truths of the gospel. It is not our job to judge, and as you said, it is God’s. I believe that God’s grace and forgiveness is for everyone, and so often Christians preach that you are excluded if you live with (fill in the blank) sin. POTSC is about loving people, regardless of their past, because that is what we are called to do. Sin, no matter what the sin is, it is all the same. We as humans weight it. The consequences on earth may be different, but the person who had an affair versus the convicted rapist, God’s grace is still sufficient.

      My post was about how I looked at these posters and found myself judging. The very thing that we as Christians are so comfortable doing. Denise (comment above) reminded me that these people in these photos did nothing to me, so it shouldn’t be about me forgiving them either.

      I know what the Bible says about sin, but I also know that while we are busy deciding who deserves Jesus, we are missing the point. I spent countless hours in college (as you know) arguing with my roommate. She had a hard time with my ‘liberal’ views. I argued back. I certainly struggled with her viewpoint as well. So there we were, two people trying to live like Jesus, busy arguing with each other, and proving that the church is divided on issues that do not matter.

      Now, I’m just not worried about it. Liberate love. Overthrow judgement. I think we need to realize that while we are to let God refine us, change us, move us, we are NOT called to BE God. He has that covered, and for that, I’m relieved.

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