Jim Denison: What the Mueller Report, Columbine, and Forgiveness Means This Good Friday

Unidentified students embrace each other at a makeshift memorial for their slain classmates at Columbine High School on a hilltop overlooking the school in Littleton, Colo., in this April 24, 1999, file photo. Twelve students and a teacher were killed in a murderous rampage at the school on April 20, 1999, by two students who killed themselves in the aftermath. | (Photo: AP / Bebeto Matthews, File)

The long-awaited Mueller report was released to the public yesterday.

The reaction has been as partisan as we would expect. The president’s supporters and his critics are both using the report to claim vindication for their positions. Analysts are already speculating on ways the parties will use it in the 2020 election cycle.

We should not be surprised by this polarized response. Our culture has jettisoned absolute truth and objective morality, claiming tolerance for all viewpoints as our highest value. But this goes only halfway: many demand that we tolerate their views but feel no obligation to tolerate ours.

Years ago, a wise friend explained to me the three steps of political success: (1) convince people they have an enemy; (2) convince them that they cannot defeat their enemy; (3) convince them that I will defeat their enemy if they vote for me (or give me money, or do whatever I want them to do).

In our zero-sum, for-me-to-win-you-must-lose culture, is there a better way forward?

“Columbine” is now a category

The twentieth anniversary of the Columbine massacre is this Sunday.

On the morning of April 20, 1999, two teenagers began shooting fellow students outside Columbine High School in suburban Denver. They killed twelve students and a teacher and wounded twenty others before killing themselves.

Tragically, “Columbine” has become not just a name or an event but a category.

According to the Washington Post, 226,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since the Columbine shooting. At least 143 children, educators, and others have been killed in assaults, and another 294 have been injured.

The threat to our students is clearly not over. More than 130 schools across Denver closed Wednesday as authorities searched for a woman reportedly obsessed with the Columbine massacre and deemed a “credible threat to the community.” She was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

School shootings have become so common that a support group, the Principals Recovery Network, has been formed to help principals whose schools experience such tragedy.

Combining love and accountability

How can the Columbine survivors and families of the victims best respond to Sunday’s tragic anniversary? The answer is relevant not only to their grief but to our polarized society as well.

Jesus instructed us to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28). He also taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Does this mean that we do not hold people accountable for their sins? Absolutely not.

When someone sins against you, you are to “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15). If he will not listen, you are to “take one or two others along with you” (v. 16). If he refuses to listen to them, “tell it to the church” (v. 17a). If he refuses to listen to the church, he is to be removed from the community of faith (v. 17b).

If the sin is criminal in nature, the state is to punish as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). And the ultimate judge is God himself: “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison