Lenten Devotional: March 7

Radical Transformation and Forgiveness Through Love and Truth

— By Steve Frick —

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.

– Ephesians 1:7-8

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

– Luke 6:37

I love good movies, and I suppose many people do. When you think about it, even our ordinary days typically provide us with interesting stories whether it’s about our relationships or just accomplishing something with meaning. What is life outside of a story that is either entertaining, motivational, or inspiring? Of course, there are dramatic and tragic things which occur in our lives that we wish hadn’t happened, and hopefully they don’t happen often. 

Consider the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there a greater story than God becoming a human and showing his creation forgiveness instead of wrath after putting Him on a cross to die? I think not. To say there is a similar story as meaningful is not possible, but there may be a story that provides us with a glimpse, and I emphasize “a glimpse”, into the radical transformation and forgiveness that God provides through love and truth.  

Back to movies. The movies I love the most are those I don’t forget. There’s a particular movie that I think of often which demonstrates amazing transformation and forgiveness from the bonds of hate and injustice through love, truth, and real relationships. American History X, starring Edward Norton, has some difficult scenes to watch and not for children, but it is a movie you won’t forget, nor the message that it wants you to understand. It is raw and real. To grasp the message, to see the radical transformation part that occurs in this movie, you also need to see the “hate” part. It is relevant to America and the on-going injustices we continue to see in the American story, hence the “X”, which means indefinite – past, current, and future – what has been, what is, and what will be, at least for a time. While you may not have seen the movie and I respect your choice to not see it, America needs to see it again.  

Edward Norton’s character found a new path in the end, and it was expressed through a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address which is powerful: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Part of this devotional will come later if you so choose to watch American History X or to watch it again. To end this devotional for now, I am providing a couple of my favorite verses regarding forgiveness and redemption – the story of Christ crucified.