“Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!”
How often does race allow us to forgive? Sometimes? Often? Always? Not applicable? Often forgiveness is not applicable in matters of race. But, what does our faith require of us? As believers, there is no limit to the number of times that we forgive because there is no limit to the number of times that we have been forgiven. We extend grace because it has been extended to us. We are merciful to others because God has been merciful to us. Consequently, no matter the reason for the offense, we must forgive. We must not concern ourselves with what has been done to us but what God is attempting to do through us as ambassadors of reconciliation, as peacemakers, as daughters and sons of light. Remember, vengeance is the Lord’s (Romans 12.9; Hebrews 10.30).
Race is no exception as there are no loopholes as to when or who we must forgive. In the eyes of God, we are all siblings despite the attempts of race to create otherness and difference. We are a family no matter how seemingly distant the relation. And no matter what we fight about, no matter the names we call each other, we need each other and were created to be in relationship with one another.
“Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go?” Peter asked a question of Jesus that we still ask today. But, there is one word that is missing: brother. The relationship that we share with each other because of our common humanity is hidden behind race. We do not see each other as human beings, equally loved and accepted in the eyes of God. How then can we see each other as siblings, if we are unable to see each other as the creation of God?
And we don’t let it go. Instead, we hold on to it. We share it, as if a tradition to be passed down like music, food and dance, with generation after generation. How long will we carry our unforgiveness? How long will we repeat the offense both in word and in deed? How long will we not forgive as we witness the mercy and grace of a God who continues to forgive us despite the number of times sinned against? Seven times? Seventy times seven? Not applicable?