What if he was the one who planned the murder? Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind until someone else asked me. All this time, I’ve only thought of this first offender as someone on the periphery, because he had been so remorseful. Someone who went along with what everyone else had planned, as though this somehow made it better. But what if he was the ring leader? What if he is so remorseful because he was the one who planned it and pushed everyone else into it? What if?
Do I still want mediation with someone like that?
These are questions I ask myself now as I dig into the core of my own belief system. I don’t talk about it much, the reason why mediation is so important to me. I don’t want people to get lost in whether they agree with my reasons or my faith. But it’s the motivation. It is my faith that God is Just, God is Love and that God is Present that drives me.
I’m a minister. I believe in Jesus. I am a follower of Christ. I am not a typical, conservative, Republican Evangelical Christian. I’m a liberal, Democratic Socialist who takes the words of Jesus really seriously. I take Paul into consideration, I use the Old Testament for reference, but I follow Jesus. Christians in America (even around the world) often take what Paul says and what Jesus says as equal in value. I do not. Paul must be taken in context because he’s human and sinful and a dick sometimes. Jesus though? Jesus’ words, for me, are divine. They stand the test of time. I fail always but I try constantly to follow what Jesus says.
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” I take this to heart. Jesus was talking to Jews, Jews who had neighbors that were Romans. Romans were oppressors and occupiers and Jesus was commanding them to love them. If Jesus believed the Jews should love the people who had conquered them, then I’m sure he would believe I should love this murderer.
It’s important. Jesus taught a lot of stuff that Paul doesn’t. Jesus taught a lot of stuff that stands in stark contrast to that of the Old Testament. Forgiving your enemies, putting down stones, participation in justice: these are the values of Jesus. And I am a Christian. So I’m working on the forgiveness part- that’s such a process. In the meantime, I am putting down my stones.
So what do I do if he was the planner? What if he was the ringleader? I guess, in many ways, it doesn’t change much. I’ve said before that this isn’t about forgiveness. At least, not about a moment of forgiveness. Instead, it’s about a process of Justice and this might include forgiveness. I hope it does. It may not. It means that I recognize that this human, who did a horrible thing, is still human. A human that is created in the image of God. So I ask myself, what does that say about God?