Thursday, 11 April 2013
Love: Truth, Mercy and Justice
When Nelson Mandela left prison after twenty-seven years and became South Africa’s first democratically elected president, he called upon his old friend, Desmond Tutu, to chair The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission was a series of hearings – some of them public – in which both victims and perpetrators gave testimony about their experiences and actions during apartheid.
At one of the hearings, a policeman, called van de Broek, told of how he and his fellow officers shot an eighteen-year-old youth, then burnt the body. Eight years later they went back, took the father and forced his wife to watch as he was incinerated. She was in court to hear this confession and was asked by the judge what she wanted. She said she wanted van de Broek to go to the place where they had buried her husband’s body and gather up the dust so that she could give him a decent burial. Van de Broek agreed.
She then added a further request. ‘Mr van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so that I can be a mother to him. And I would like Mr van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him too. I would like to embrace him so he can know that my forgiveness is real.’
Spontaneously, some in the courtroom began singing ‘Amazing Grace’ as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand. But van de Broek did not hear the hymn, he had fainted, overwhelmed.
In this story truth, love and mercy flow together. Facing up to the truth of what had happened was the foundation for love and mercy. The same is true with God’s love – he does not ignore our sin, he chooses to forgive us. In the story the woman was able to forgive Van de Broek because she chose to forgo her right to justice. God’s love and mercy is even more extraordinary, because at the cross there is justice as well as mercy. ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:16) and ‘God is merciful’ (Daniel 9:9), but he is also the God of truth and the God of justice.
1. Love and truth
2. Love and mercy
3. Love and justice
To read the rest of this incredibly challenging post, go to http://acs.alpha.org/bioy/commentary/465