Forgiveness in the Internet Age
C.S. Lewis says this about forgiveness:
“…You must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart-every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in such you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.”
In our age of social media and instant information, we have news stories thrown at us from every direction. These stories can range from corruption of a politician at a local level to horrifying crimes that make the headlines of every news station and beyond. Sometimes these stories relate to us personally and we feel the urge to do something about it, and sometimes we sigh, shake our heads, and move on to the next post.
In the age of rapidly spreading information these stories hit us every day, changing constantly. We rarely ever get the full story, but our minds are made up immediately. There is simply too much going on to research every new thing that shows up on our feeds, our walls, on trending news. So, we make our judgments and move on. We may never meet the accused or the convicted in our lives – but we’ve made our decisions about them.
If we take the words of Jesus seriously, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins,” then this offers us a problem. When we do not forgive others, we risk not being forgiven by our Lord in Heaven. Yet, it is unjust for us to stand silent in the face of injustice and oppression. What do we as Christians do in situations like these?
I would like to point out that forgiveness is not acceptance. Forgiving someone for what they have done is not waving it away as if it never happened. Forgiveness is an active process that can rarely is instantaneous. Forgiveness is a gift we give to someone, realizing they are human too, and loved by God. Forgiveness is a process that takes time – and time is not something encouraged by the internet’s constant updates.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak out against something you disagree with. Christ calls for us to stand against oppression – so it is right to speak out against it. But we also must remember to take the time to forgive those who we so often personify as the enemy, whether they are guilty or not. Forgiveness leads to freedom and love for both the victim and the abuser. It may take time – but time is something that we all need in this high speed world.