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Myers: A brutal killing becomes an act of grace
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A couple of years ago, I read a story in this very newspaper about a man named Glen Mitchell. He lived in Jacksonville, Fla., and had a 13-year-old son named Jeff. One day Jeff was shot and killed by four boys while he was waiting for Glen to pick him up from school. One of the boys, Ellis Curry, later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and spent 12 years in prison.

After his release, Ellis Curry and Glen Mitchell were reunited. Together, the father of Jeff Mitchell and one of the boys responsible for his murder now work to raise awareness of the rising violence in Jacksonville.

By all accounts, this is a wonderful story of grace and redemption. I, however, am having a very hard time with it. I know I'm a pastor, but as a father it's very difficult to understand how this man can work side-by-side with someone responsible for his own son's death. Doesn't he remember the pain, the sorrow, the loss? How can this father so disrespect his son's death and memory by accepting this killer with open arms?

Perhaps it's because that's what God does with us. Understand, I don't know whether Glen Mitchell is a Christian. What I do know, however, is that his attitude and actions toward Ellis Curry are a direct reflection of God's attitude and actions toward us.

When you get right down to it, you and I are guilty of the murder of Jesus Christ. Just as if we shot and killed him; just as if you and I drove the spikes into his hands and feet. Jesus died for our sins. Therefore, we are guilty of his murder.

What is our heavenly father's response to this? Anger? Hatred? Threats of eternal torment? We'd certainly deserve such a response. But that is not what he does. Instead, our heavenly father does what Glen Mitchell did. He loves. He forgives. In fact, he invites us to join him in working to raise awareness of people's need for a savior, and saving the souls of lost people all over the world (Matthew 28:18-20).

Can you imagine, God partnering with the very murderers of his son, working with them to change the lives of countless others? Doesn't that disrespect Jesus' death? Doesn't that disrespect Jesus' memory? On the contrary, I believe it makes Jesus' death more meaningful. Jesus' death on the cross has brought us and his father - our heavenly father - together. And now God invites us to work with him in presenting the message of salvation to those who need to hear it.

Now that's a beautiful picture of grace and redemption!

Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column runs every other week in Sunday Life.