Forgiving Enemies – Really!

Stories to Help Us Learn How to Forgive

Sometimes we need a story to help us learn to forgive. We need to see and hear the struggles of real people who have wrestled with evil and come to grips with forgiveness. I want to recommend four resources to you.

ONE: The first one is the classic movie, Les Miserables, and the story of Jean Valjean. I am assuming you are familiar with this beautiful story. Jean Valjean is welcomed by a bishop, enjoys his hospitality, and then steals his silver. Valjean is caught and returned to the scene of the crime. One word from the bishop, and Jean Valjean will spend the rest of his life in prison. Instead, the bishop forgives and blesses. That moment is the moment of redemption for Jean Valjean. Watch this scene and then watch the entire movie to see how Valjean lived a life for the sake of many others.

TWO: There is a documentary by PBS on forgiveness. It explores the stories of terrible things done to innocent people and the struggle for forgiveness. Here is the promotional to whet your appetite. These people struggled with great evil.

This is not a specifically Christian treatment of evil and forgiveness, but it is very much worth watching and thinking about.

THIRD: One of the truly horrific cases of evil in modern times was the Rwandan genocide. You can see the story of that genocide in Hotel Rwanda.

But the real story happens later, as Rwandans are faced with the choice to forgive the very people who murdered their family members. That story is told in As We Forgive. Here is an introduction to it. The entire movie is very worth watching.

FOUR: The final resource is the CBS short news report and a book suggestion. In the interview, there was an older man, Donald Kraybill, a theologian, educator, and specialist on the Amish culture. His book on the Amish school shooting is sensitive and wise. You will find it rich in spiritual guidance.


Only heaven knows what heaven will do when it comes to unleashing redemption on the world through the power of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. It is NOT how the world works, it is how the Kingdom of God works. It is how the church is meant to exist in the world. It is the way of following Jesus.

May all these stories and explorations inspire you for the possibilities of redeeming love that goes out to those who are enemies.

Pastor Brian

Brian Rice
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