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I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when Peter asked if he should forgive seven times that Jesus responded, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). As I pointed out in the sermon those are the exact numbers that Lamech used in his vengeful boast (Genesis 4:23-24). It’s as if Jesus is saying — “We’re going to change the world!” We’ve tired the revenge approach and as Ghandi said, if we keep requiring eye for eye “the whole world will go blind.”
What does the new approach look like? Unfortunately, it has been so rarely practiced (even by God’s people) that the world is still waiting to see. The remarkable thing about Debbie Morris’ testimony in her book, Dead Man Walking, is not that she could forgive her rapists; rather it’s remarkable that her story is remarkable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Christians were known for their outrageous forgiveness? What if Debbie’s story wasn’t an isolated incident of remarkable faith, but simply another example of how God’s people allow his forgiveness to flow through them, even in the worst of circumstances. That is our challenge.
On another note, I always approach using math or science in my sermons at Clear Lake Church of Christ with fear and trembling. It has reached the point that I no longer even wonder IF I will make a mistake, now I simply do not want to make a grievous error. Today I said that Lamech considered himself ten times better (or in the vernacular “badder”) than God. It was gently pointed out to me after the sermon that actually 77 is 11 times the number seven. That means that Lamech considered himself 11 times better than God. I will grant the mathematical accuracy of that statement; but still think that “ten times” simply has a better verbal ring to it than “11 times”.
And Melissa, (hopefully you’ve read this far), I will be looking forward to reading your blog comments.