Summary: In light of the recent tragedy in South Carolina, I gave this message on Father's Day.
1 Peter 4:1-19 (Read)
What kind of people offer forgiveness to those who murder their family members?
What motivates people to even consider forgiveness towards their enemies?
Who has the influential power to cause this kind of response?
Do we have that kind of faith?
This week 21 year old Dylan Roof entered a Black African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed 9 people. Yesterday the families of the shooting victims had a chance to address the gunman. Do you know their message to him? “We forgive you. “ Their message to Dylan Roof was, “We will not let hatred win.”
What kind of people say things like that? What does it take to build that kind of character in a person’s heart?
Listen, we know the answer to these questions, don’t we? We follow a crucified Lord and Savior who willingly laid down His life on a cross for us, and as He died, He willingly prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him. We follow a risen Lord and King who conquered death and sin and brought grace and forgiveness to all who receive Him, who believe on His name and submit to His authority.
Yet our hearts cry out for justice too, do the not? We can tend to want God’s mercy on ourselves but God’s justice on our enemies. Know what I mean? God calls us to an even higher place where we would also choose mercy for our enemies. Not so that they can practice their hatred toward us, but so that they can see God in us. When the Almighty God of all creation sacrificed His Son for us sinners, we witnessed an act of love for enemies that is more powerful than Satan, sin or Hell. Jesus Christ understands unjust treatment. He knows the destructive forces of evil first hand. Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, gave Himself up to the hands of those who crucified Him. He committed Himself to the Everlasting Father, who judges justly. In other words, there will be a day of reckoning. God the Father says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” Therefore we can entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly as well. We can even stand with Stephen, the first martyr to die for Jesus Christ, who said as he was being stoned to death by a raging mob, “Father, do not hold this sin against them.”
Today is Father’s day. God our Father created man and woman in His own image and likeness and blessed us to be able to bring new life into this world and become fathers and mothers of children who will grow up and, by God’s grace, do the same. Fathers have the role of protector and provider as we lead our families. None of us would sit back and watch if our wives or children were being threatened physically, would we? It is one thing to practice self-defense as a Christian, but quite another to defend our family from harm. Jesus did not defend Himself, but He certainly defended the honor of His Father and protected His disciples.
None of us who are fathers would sit back and neglect providing for our families either, would we? As protector and provider, we have a responsibility to meet the needs of our families, do we not? Jesus speaking to His disciples said to a group of fathers, “Which of you having a son, if he asked for bread would give him a stone, or if he asked for a fish would give him a snake?” If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him?