“Said, said, said, I remember when we used to sit In the government yard in Trenchtown. And then Georgie would make the fire lights, As it was logwood burnin’ through the nights. Then we would cook cornmeal porridge, Of which I’ll share with you, My feet is my only carriage, So I’ve got to push on through. But while I’m gone, I mean, Everything’s gonna be all right!”
– Bob Marley and the Wailers
No words in scripture have had a more inviting and haunting impact on my life as a Christian than those found in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 where Jesus suggests forgiving those who have sinned against me just as God forgives me (6:12) and suggesting that God will not forgive if I do not forgive (6:14-15). On the surface, these words from Jesus seem to indicate a mandate or a necessity to an immediate and complete forgiveness if a Christian is to expect forgiveness from God. Here, I will be going beyond the surface reading of Jesus’s words on forgiveness and digging into the struggles it has presented in my own life as a survivor of child abuse.
Sermon on the Mount Overview
Jesus’ words on forgiveness are found in the immediate context of the Lord’s Prayer and the larger context of the Sermon on the Mount. For the moment, I am going to provide an overview of the sermon and will come back to different parts throughout this writing. I like Thomas Long’s handling of what the Sermon on the Mount is as he says the church becomes a “colony of the kingdom of heaven placed in the midst of an alien culture.”
Jesus calls on His followers to be salt and light on the earth. Anna Case-Winters writes of the community of believers that “The gifts/functions of salt and light are not self-contained; they are meant to be shaken out and shining forth. […] Its witness is public.” This community that Christ is creating is a community that spreads both message and deed throughout the entire world. On the outset, what it means to be salt and light can be quite confusing, but it becomes clearer as Jesus continues preaching and instructing.
In this new Kingdom: oaths, anger, adultery, revenge, hatred for enemies, and unfounded divorce have no place. The Kingdom Christ intends is expansive and filled to the brim with the love of God and neighbor, leaving no room for the continuing willful perpetuation of what has been prohibited. In this sense, the Kingdom is not wide open with its’ inclusivity like some may suggest as Jesus indicates when saying “few will find it.” As Jesus continues in Chapter 6, He makes it clear that piety is a private matter as well as a public one. This teaching paints a contrast between hypocrites (6:2, 6:16) and true believers who fast, pray, and give alms in private (6:3-4, 6-15, 17-18). Jesus continues by telling believers that God will provide what they need so there is no need for worry stored in the future (6:34) and not to put their faith in wealth or possessions (6:19-21) while keeping their eyes focused on God instead of the things of the earth (6:22-24 ).
Jesus continues in Chapter 7 where He rebukes unrighteous judgment (7:1-6) where we start with being self-critical in healthy ways before beginning to peacefully and appropriately confront what others are doing that is harmful. Jesus continues by instructing that all that believers act for that is in line with the will of the Father will be given (7:7-11) and in all that they do, they are to treat others as they want to be treated (7:12). Jesus is clear following these teaching that those who do not take heed are in error and in sincere danger of being cast out.
Quite clear from this brief overview is that Jesus is concerned with both our hearing and our selfless doing. Good deeds are not how we earn favor with God, rather they become the natural result of our walk in Christ. In this sense, the Kingdom becomes a community of blessing among themselves and goes out into the world to bless and witness to others in the same way they naturally breathe, eat, and drink.
Mistakes along the Way
“Being told things such as “If you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive you!” can cause people to turn away from Christianity. This picture of a “tit for tat” God- “I’ll only forgive you if you forgive first” – just isn’t there in the Bible, and it’s not the God I know because it paints a picture of a God withdrawing love from someone already desperately hurt.”
– Sue Atkinson
I intend all of this to be my own “bowl of porridge” that I’m sharing with you. I will be exchanging between personal experience with forgiveness and what Jesus has to say about it both in the Sermon on the Mount and in other places. I begin with my earliest forgiveness work to demonstrate harmful rhetoric and theology I once participated in as a lesson learned and a cautionary tale to others. There was a time in my walk that I would have chalked up words like those Sue Atkinson offers as total rubbish and nonsense. Like so many Christians new to the faith, I had this unhealthy view of Christ and God which sought to minimize my life experience as someone who endured nineteen years of abuse at the hands of my parents. I became ever attracted to dispensationalism and millennialist ideas which viewed the human body as a shell with a soul inside of it desperately seeking freedom from this broken world. Images and media depicting the so called “Rapture” captured my imagination and my focus as I started to follow Christ.
This explains why I preached on forgiveness the first time I preached to my home congregation. I was vague purposefully and careful not to reveal any details. There were very few people there who knew what I had been through and that was my first mistake. Perhaps if I had been more open with my pastor and my congregation I wouldn’t have been so reckless not only in my message of forgiveness, but in the way I treated myself when something in me kept shouting “This isn’t right!”
Mistakes continued as I imposed on myself a story of so called “instant forgiveness” that so many in Atkinson’s Struggling to Forgive found themselves encountering. Every strike against my flesh, every word hurled towards me in slander, every instance of molestation at the hands of my mother’s many boyfriends in my youngest years were trivial and meaningless. For me, only one thing mattered and that was how Jesus forgave me and that I needed to drop the past completely and forgive all of it in fear of encountering Jesus exclaiming, “Go away from me I never knew you!”
In my first sermon to my congregation, I stood in the pulpit and told every person there that no matter what has happened to them in their lives, they must forgive. They ate it up as evidenced by the emails, phone calls, and letters I got from quite a few congregants who told me that I had given them a “perspective” they needed to hear being as vague with their situations as I was with mine. For all intents and purposes, the message I had given was correct. However, the truth is that the vagueness in my sermon, the trivial nature I assigned to my life experiences, and the vagueness in the response of congregants worked like a stranglehold on the Spirit suppressing the reality of Jesus’s words.
It wasn’t until my last year at Liberty that my theology around forgiveness began to unravel. The final assignment for my prophecy class on Daniel and Revelation was to write on the different views of dispensationalism (millennialism) and make the case for why one was better than the others. Reading through the stances was nothing new, I had done this many times, but I knew I had to read through them again to catch the particular details. This time, what I had done so many times before rendered me a stranger in unfamiliar land. I couldn’t recognize the words that were once familiar. They weren’t hospitable, they weren’t inviting, they pierced holes in my soul. I found myself with more questions than answers: Was this life truly meaningless? What good are the teachings of Jesus if our acting on them has no bearing in this life? Do my life experiences actually matter? Was the “Rapture” sufficient enough to capture the rage, disappointment, depression, anxiety, and pain that came with and resulted from what I had endured? My worldview shattered into countless pieces, but it was in the mess the shattering created that I found meaning in what had occurred.
“forgiving can be hard work. It can be grueling, leaving us exhausted and discouraged. It isn’t easy when the difficult event caused us to have overwhelming feelings of loss and anger, and when our lives are so bad that normal living is impossible.”
– Sue Atkinson
Experiences matter. My experiences matter, your experience matters, what has been done towards us and what we do towards others matters. As Atkinson demonstrates in the passage above, there are experiences in life that are deeply traumatic and difficult to approach with a fast and easy forgiveness. With such a realization in sight, one must look at what is going on in the Sermon on the Mount (particularly 6:12).
Frederick Bruner’s handling of where forgiveness comes from is most helpful at this juncture. Bruner reminds the reader that believers know what forgiveness is because we have experienced the forgiveness of God and Scot McKnight compliments this notion by stating “our forgiveness does not earn God’s forgiveness.” The truth of the matter is that God’s grace goes ahead of us so far that the forgiveness that God offers is freely given (we cannot earn it).  Matthew 6:14-15, then, reminds us that while God’s grace is freely given, it isn’t cheap.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” What this means in the context I’m referring to at the moment is that when a believer prays, they must be honest with themselves and God. It is God who stands ready to forgive, but it is we who have to confess our struggles to do the same.
This idea can seem startling in relation to what I’ve already offered and can, perhaps, sound like an avocation for the pursuit of quick forgiveness. What we have to do in order to nuance this is to exchange the word “quick” for “gradual”. In the Wesleyan tradition, we speak about sanctification and moving closer to perfection in Christ. I think that captures the concept of a gradual forgiveness well. The intent of the believer in this gradual forgiveness is to reach a point where they can forgive their abuser, but in a process that lacks a timeframe. In this light the prayer can be rendered as such: “You have shown me Your forgiveness, help me to show forgiveness to those who have harmed me .”
This reality of gradual forgiveness is further realized in Jesus’ teaching to Peter stating that we are to forgive those who have wronged us “seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18: 22). This has been understood to mean an infinite number of times. The reoccurrences of memories and nightmares that abuse survivors encounter attest to the reality of the statement. These memories prompt opportunities for forgiveness sometimes once a day, a week, a month, ect. If abuse survivors get wrapped up in how many times they’ve forgiven a particular memory, they’re missing the larger point that they may not have forgiven it at all. There is joy to be found in forgiving memories and in forgiving others, but if we start to count them to wear like merit badges, we’re not selflessly forgiving and selfless forgiving is what Jesus is calling on believers to do in the Kingdom He is ushering in as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount. There is no guarantee that the memories fully go away, but there is power in being able to eventually come to a point where when they arrive, they can be forgiven with less and less effort.
“The creation is out of joint. Human life is broken in many places. Things are not the way they are supposed to be, and the people of God lament, “O God, do not let your world hurt this way forever.” The promise of the kingdom is that such lamenting prayers will surely be answered and such mourners will surely be answered and such mourners will be comforted.”
– Thomas G. Long
I am intending to deal uniquely with the complexities that an abuse survivor lives with as they seek to live into the forgiveness teachings that Jesus included in the Sermon on the Mount with the goal of Kingdom living in mind. As such, it is important to note some of what makes the walk of an abuse survivor unique. Earlier I alluded to my mistakes in the beginnings of my Christian journey and forgiveness work. Aside from the dispensationalist ideas which were once comforting, I had also developed an unhealthy understanding of what abuse is.
Nestled within the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus talking about evildoers. He states, “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Mtt. 5:39). I had listened to others who were dealing with abuse relationships both current and healing from the past. Many that I encountered had developed this idea that because Jesus endured the cross, the logical explanation for this verse in His sermon was that abuse is a part of life for the innocent and it pales in comparison to the crucifixion in an attempt to remove the bulk of the weight of the trauma and minimize the significance of the experience.
Far be it from me to compare the abuse in my life to the crucifixion. My point is not to hold my experiences up to the crucifixion of Christ in a way that says “it’s the same thing”, far from it. My intent is to say that my experience matters and the crucifixion does not make it matter any less. This whole approach of “You think that’s bad? Jesus had to die on a cross, that’s far worse” is not appropriate and is not a Kingdom teaching on several fronts .
In order to dispel the myth that abusive experiences are acceptable and seemingly insignificant, I must speak to what Jesus was saying when He instructed believers to turn their cheeks after being hit. Sue Atkinson offers her paraphrase of what Walter Wink offers in his book Engaging the Powers: “Why does Jesus specify the right cheek? According to Wink this is because if we were a servant in Palestine, our master couldn’t use his left hand to hit us because that hand was only ever used for unclean tasks. So he must hit us with his right hand – with a backhanded swipe – because this was the way to show someone that they are beneath you.” In other words, it’s a matter of respect. What makes this all the more curious in my own experience is that I was always struck with the right hand by both my stepmother and father even though my father was left handed. Though we are not ancient Palestinians, the parallels are intriguing enough to mention here and further underline the lack of respect for my life as a human being which is inescapable. Atkinson suggests that this is an issue of justice and not allowing one’s self to be oppressed and put down by people in a more powerful position than our own. What that means in the simplest terms is that my experience not only matters, but a glaring wrong was committed against me in a repetitious manner. My pacifist response to the violence is therefore not complicity, rather it is a powerful rebuke of the evil dealt out .
Once the encouragement of willful complicity is broken, there is mourning to be done. I think this is why Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes where He indicates that those suffering in the world are blessed in Kingdom community. One of our greatest faults in Western culture is that the wealthiest people within our culture consider themselves to be suffering as much as someone who has no home to live in or someone who has been assaulted. It just doesn’t make sense and yet we perpetuate the myth that Scrooge McDuck is as meek as Oliver Twist. This is where we get the ideas of pulling ourselves up “by the bootstraps” or “you’re just lazy”. In the realest sense, mourning cannot be done when the space reserved for it in the life of the afflicted is congested with the words and actions of self-absorbed believers.
Christ shatters the myth of self-preservation in the Sermon on the Mount. He exclaims, “Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted.” (Mtt. 5:4). Scot McKnight offers the following, “Those who “mourn” both grieve in their experiences of tragedy, injustice, and death, and reach out to others in grief and compassion when they experience injustice, sin, evil, tragedy, and death. In other words, they suffer and they love those who suffer.” The Kingdom is therefore a place where mourning and grief are honored as life experiences that are tended to by the Spirit and by God.
Bruner reminds believers that it is not just the grief caused by our individual sins or sins perpetuated against us, it is also grief that comes against others in the community and the community as a whole by the world. This nuance is important, but it runs the risk of being overblown in some instances. Many churches today in the United States adapt the position of being persecuted over a loss in marriage between church and government. That kind of thinking is what leads those churches to mourn as a community what is not legitimate grief. Between McKnight and Bruner, we find criteria for what constitutes legitimate grief. Our churches are ill-equipped to deal with issues like child abuse, but that is not an excuse to avoid companioning through the grief and mourning while finding services to assist them.
Lament and grief are parts of mourning. As I mentioned earlier, there are reoccurrences in memory. These memories call for lament, grief, mourning, and healing. It is here that Jesus’ words on forgiveness to Peter in Matthew 18:22 can serve a great deal in understanding this. Forgiveness is something that comes after the laments and mourning. Mourning, grief, and lament are all boards on the bridge to forgiveness and healing. Perhaps these memories lose power over time, but their initial stings dull at a slower rate. Therefore, the end result of every encounter and mourning of these memories is to achieve forgiveness.
Loving Enemies, Seeking Justice
“We all knelt on top of the mass grave. Asking everybody to hold hands, I found myself praying for forgiveness from those below the altar. “We killed you,” I whispered. “Please forgive us. You did not die because you were Christians. You died in spite of your being Christian, betrayed by the very church you loved and trusted.”
– Emmanuel Katongole
There are fewer texts more controversial in the life of an abuse survivor than the radical call of Jesus to not only love, but to pray for our enemies. In cases of assault, the assaulter makes themselves the enemy at the outset. They come against someone physically and do their best to diminish that person’s humanity. However, this cannot remain the mindset for a believer. At some point in the healing journey from abuse, a believer should come to the realization that our labeling of our assaulter(s) as “enemy” is a choice that we have made. In the initial work it is a very important and healthy distinction to make, but the perpetrators cannot be held in such a box if we are striving for a community built on trust .
One of the harshest realizations I’ve had this far in my journey is the reality of when I try to stand in the way of the possible inclusion of my parents in the Kingdom. In a sense, I am standing between them and God at times in a place that is reserved for Christ. My goal, then, is to get out of the way and allow God to continue attempts at wooing them. Doing this does not indicate that they are innocent, it indicates that if I am serious about Kingdom living, I need to learn how to extend love where I thought it impossible to do before in the very face of evil.
In this passage, Jesus is rebuking a “hate your enemy” mindset in a further commentary on Matthew 5: 21-26 where He speaks against being angry with one another. What Jesus is concerned with is a habit of anger with no intentions of changing the behavior. My decision in my forgiveness work to label my parents as enemies is something I had little desire to change. At the outset, they were the dynamics thrust upon me, but now they are the dynamics I hold onto because they have given me a sense of power and control. The reality of Jesus’ teaching here for forgiveness work for abuse survivors and myself is that, after a certain point, you’re not drawing your power from the Spirit, you are drawing it from self-perpetuating anger. Anger is appropriate in traumatic experiences, but it cannot manifest into an idol. Therefore, the command to pray for my enemies is two-fold. First, I pray for my parents and that they will know Christ and seek forgiveness. Second, I must pray against myself and pray for a deliverance from calling my parents “enemies” and repent for my continuation of anger when it’s not appropriate. This repentance comes from the realization that Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by acknowledging the afflictions present, but He does not let believers off the hook for the way they are living .
The words I offered from Katongole are important to reflect on. Katongole is reflecting on the Rwandan genocide and the tribal conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis that saw 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus killed. My situation is far from a genocide, but there is a parallel to consider. If we take the concept of infinite forgiveness, each time I am prompted to forgive my assaulters and I label them as “enemy”, it becomes an issue when I desire no change because it results from nurtured anger. I have already established that Jesus is concerned with willful and habitual anger so much that He puts His judgment for it in line with murderers in Matthew 5:21-26. Considering these words, perhaps the insistence of labeling my parents as “enemies” is committing murder towards them in my heart by categorizing them as people who have no place in the Kingdom and should go into hellfire. This causes my prayer before God to be a whisper just as Kantongole’s prayer was. My words would be “I haven’t murdered my assaulters in my heart and mind because I’m a Christian, I’ve done it in spite of being a Christian.” This is an important aspect in the healing towards forgiveness: continual honesty with myself and learning to let go of unhealthy attitudes and practices.
Jesus further instructs that I am not to worry about tomorrow and that I am to focus on today (Mtt. 6:25-34). In regards to forgiveness, this means that, perhaps, today I should focus on forgiving and leave the worrying about how full forgiveness arrives in the future to God. No amount of reading, no amount of possessions I could obtain in an attempt to pacify my hurt replaces the need for forgiveness work. This is why Kingdom living is so crucial because it is Spirit sustained. I can read every book there is on trauma and trauma healing, I could rack up speaking engagements and book deals and plenty of degrees. But if my heart isn’t convicted and I’m not making attempts to practice in private what I profess publicly, then it’s all meaningless.
All this is to say I still seek justice. Atkinson writes, “Forgiving doesn’t, and musn’t, mean we ignore justice.” There was a time when my father found where I was working and confronted me on the job. He told me he didn’t understand what was happening and why I “broke away” from the family. I told him it was because of the abuse and after several failed rationales for it, he finally stated, “men don’t apologize, that’s a sign of weakness.” Perhaps in my earthly father’s house this is true, but in the Kingdom of my Heavenly Father, justice brings a sense of accountability. For me (and perhaps many), justice means a heartfelt apology from my assaulters. This is a practice of restorative justice as opposed to retributive justice. Howard Zehr distinguishes the two:
Retributive theory believes that pain will vindicate, but in practice that is often counterproductive for both the one harmed and the one causing harm. Restorative justice theory, on the other hand, argues that what truly vindicates is acknowledgment of a victim’s harms and needs, combined with an active effort to encourage the offender to take responsibility, make right the wrongs, and address the causes of his or her behavior. By addressing this need for vindication in a positive way, restorative justice has the potential to affirm all parties and to help them transform their lives.
This is not the kind of apology that enables a relationship necessarily, though being open to that possibility is an admirable mindset to have. The reason I went through the need to remove the label “enemy” from my assaulters first is to make a greater point now. I am in no position to accept a meaningful apology if my heart is not in the right place. I must be honest with myself and others regarding work done and work yet to be done so if the day comes where I am given an apology, I can adequately honor it and reply with a healthy forgiveness in kind.
I must also work on forgiving whether or not justice is possible. As Atkinson states: “Our seeking justice needs to be balanced with practicality; there’s very little point in striving for something that we can’t ever get.” While having a meaningful apology issued to me is something that would help the process, the process of forgiveness does not hinge on it. As the days, weeks, months, and years pass with no contact from my parents despite them having my phone number, it is becoming a bit clearer to me that the justice I am seeking may never come to fruition. As I continue in my working on forgiveness, I must learn to leave the justice to God and seek healing by the Spirit.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
– Atticus Finch/Harper Lee
The hardest realization of an abuse survivor’s journey is recognizing that their journey starts from a place of complete and total powerlessness. Perhaps it’s not a physical gun I’m holding when I refuse to do the work of forgiveness for selfish reasons, but it is a spiritual weapon. During these episodes in my journey, I tell myself that I have the courage to call the abuse what it is and that I am showing courage as a survivor. While both of these things are true, I’m also not fulfilling my calling as a Christian to work appropriately on forgiveness is healing. There are legitimate times when the journey brings survivors to their knees rendering them unable to move for a season, but perhaps the reason we learn to crawl before we walk is to learn how to crawl after we’ve walked as far as we can.
This is not to say that survivors should push themselves in unhealthy ways to keep moving. Sometimes crawling is as easy as admitting to being at a juncture which has rendered the survivor helpless and praying for strength and leadership from the Spirit to make it through the season first and then proceed forward. Perhaps the easiest way of understanding what crawling is involves what John Wesley referred to as the Ordinances of God: “The public worship of God. The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded. The Supper of the Lord. Family and private prayer. Searching the Scriptures. Fasting or abstinence.” These are the avenues in which survivors can experience the grace, mercy, and love of God as the Spirit imparts on them the strength to continue in the forgiveness journey.
The point of the Sermon on the Mount is community. What this means in regards to forgiveness is that the Kingdom becomes a community that enables and assists in the work of individual forgiveness. Going further, it is a community that works against injustices done towards it as I outlined earlier. Perhaps this looks like it did with a community that Celestin Musekura created. After he lost family and friends in another act of violence in Rwanda, he reached a level of God empowered forgiveness that enabled him to form communities where widows of men killed from both tribes worked together. Maybe it takes shape in the creation of new organizations such as the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) of which I am currently a member . The point is that when it comes to Kingdom building, communities form that look different to serve different functions in their various contexts, but they take the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount very seriously all the while.
Therefore, consider the following to be not just a benediction for survivors seeking to live as part of a Kingdom community, but for all of us as we navigate the heavy seas of forgiveness. Go forth and walk. When Jesus saw the paralyzed man Beth-zatha, He empowered him to get up and walk after showing Him mercy and forgiveness (John 5: 5-8). Seek the power of Christ in everything said and done. Seek the power of Christ to move when moving seems impossible. Go forth and forgive however many times it takes with no regard for the count. Go forth in community. When we find ourselves in an environment so self-consumed that they take up space reserved for the hurt and paralyzed among us, grab a mat and carry them into the center praying and walking all the while alongside them (Mark 2:1-12). God has shown us forgiveness, may we learn to grow in our practices of forgiveness towards ourselves and all who wrong us.
 Bob Marley and the Wailers, “No Woman, No Cry” (1975), Songfacts.com, “http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?lyrics=1744, (accessed July 27, 2016).
 Thomas G. Long, Matthew, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997): p. 51.
 Anna Case-Winters, Matthew, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015): p.79.
 Matthew 7:14
 Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary, vol. 1, revised ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. Eerdmans, 2004): pp. 340-341.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 114.
 Matthew 7:21-23.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 154.
 Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary, vol. 1, revised ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. Eerdmans, 2004): pp. 311-312.
 Scot McKnight, Sermon on the Mount, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013): p. 183.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 107.
 Anna Case-Winters, Matthew, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015): p. 116.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive: p. 151.
 Thomas G. Long, Matthew, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997): p. 49.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 126.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 127.
 Scot McKnight, Sermon on the Mount, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013): p. 40.
 Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary, vol. 1, revised ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. Eerdmans, 2004): pp. 163-164.
 Emmanuel Katongole and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009): p. 162.
 Matthew 5:43-48.
 Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary, vol. 1, revised ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. Eerdmans, 2004): p. 209.
 Emmanuel Katongole and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009): p. 28.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 148.
 Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative Justice, revised, (New York, NY: Good Books, 2015): p. 75.
 Sue Atkinson, Struggling to Forgive, (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2014): p. 144.
 Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, ed. Harold Bloom, updated edition, (New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2007): p. 162.
 United Methodist Church, “The General Rules of the Methodist Church”, UMC.org, http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/general-rules-of-the-methodist-church, (accessed July 25, 2016).
 L. Gregory Jones and Célestin Musekura, Forgiving as We’ve Been Forgiven, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2010): pp. 76-77.