Forget the Bible.
Forget historical records.
Forget faith and personal conviction.
Forget all those things for this single aching moment.
I believe in Jesus because of forgiveness.
But not just an afterthought-sort of forgiveness made for misdeeds done decades ago.
I believe in Jesus because of face-to-face forgiveness for a man who took someone you love less than 48 hours prior.
Hardly 2 days.
I could maybe understand a forgiveness like that after 2 decades — “enough” years of grief and acceptance, if there could ever be such closure. The time to weep, time to heal, time to talk and be still and somehow amble forward.
But forgiveness in 2 days?
In 2 days the tears are still damp against your cheeks.
In 2 days your eyes are lined and sore with sleeplessness.
In 2 days your head is dizzy with disbelief, your insides numb and burning all at once.
In 2 days you cannot piece together complete sentences, let alone the one sentence that says
Forgiveness like that is illogical. It doesn’t make sense for 2 decades, and it certainly doesn’t make sense in 2 days.
And yet it happened last week at a Charleston bond hearing.
How does forgiveness like that even exist? Where do those three impossible words come from?
I don’t know any of the Charleston victims’ families. We’ve never met. And yet I think we have a common Brother. I am sure of it, actually.
I could never prove Jesus is “real” in a tangible sense. I can’t show you the surveillance footage from His tomb. I can’t pry open my chest and show you the mystical blue light of the Holy Spirit. I can’t even point to a particular corner of the sky and allow you to absorb the ageless face of God himself.
I can’t show you the wounds in Jesus’ hands. I can’t even touch them myself, unlike my doubting scriptural namesake.
But I can point you to Charleston.
There you’ll find unspeakable pain, yes, but you’ll also discover something greater than gaping wounds.
“Hate won’t win.”
“I forgive you.”
Look no further than Charleston for resurrection breaths in flesh and bone and tearful voices.
I don’t understand why a good God allows atrocities like the Charleston shootings. Believe me, as a Christian I can’t begin to explain it.
But for all the pain I can’t fathom, I am left speechless by something all the more powerful. Something that overpowers the heinous and the hurt, storming like rain from another realm.
It is unnatural. It is supernatural. And it is here. Here in our midst in seven recorded minutes.
Forgiveness is not of this world, I’m convinced. Like a leprechaun on a rainbow in the dead of mountain night.
I call it Jesus. I watch a recording, and I hear His voice speaking beyond the tomb.
Despite this doubt and ache in Charleston’s wake, I feel something else in my soul. I watch seven minutes of a bond hearing and I’m convinced of this man named Jesus.
He was real 2,000 years ago, and He is more alive today than ever before.
He is real, because His inexplicable message of forgiveness survives. Somehow even thrives amid scenes of sheer horror.
Forgiveness is why I believe in Jesus. He is realer than a recording. Realer than a light in your chest.
Realer than the heavens above and hope for this helpless earth below.