See that guy lying in the street in a pool of his own blood? His name is Reginald Denny, he used to be a truck driver in California and someday I hope to be the kind of person he is. He is my hero.
I started thinking about him last Sunday because we talked in church about the Amish and what an amazing people they are, how they are doing the unthinkable -- forgiving the man who murdered several of their children. Everybody agreed that this is the way we should be, we should all strive to be like the Amish in this respect.
I'm not spiritually evolved enough to do that, I don't think, but I hope to be someday. And I did think I should warm my fellow congregants that if you choose to forgive those who hate and harm you, most of the world -- including your friends and family -- will turn on you and harm you even worse than your enemies did. They did it to Jesus. They did it to Reginald Denny.
I guess if most people remember Mr. Denny at all today, it's because he became a symbol of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was driving his concrete truck through South Los Angeles when the Rodney King verdict came down and riots broke out. He was pulled from his truck and savagely beaten. Among other things a man named Damian Monroe Williams threw a concrete block at his head. All this happened on live television.
But I remember Reginald Denny from an appearance about a year later on "The Phil Donahue Show." He was there with the mother of his main assailant and he hugged her and held her hand. Reginald Denny did not just forgive the man who tried to crush his skull. He went to the guy's trial and asked the judge to do something for Mister Williams that Williams had not done -- show mercy.
And oh my God, the audience -- good Christian people all of them, the kind that would have been wearing WWJD bracelets if that particular piece of jewelry had been available in 1993 -- just ripped into him. How can you forgive a man who tried to kill you? they all wanted to know. That's just crazy. There must be something seriously wrong with you. One woman, I'll never forget this, said that for Denny to act the way he was acting (i.e. like Jesus) was proof that he had suffered major brain damage in the attack.
So, if you get to where you can forgive those that hurt you, God bless you. But understand that if you don't live in a community of forgivers, those around you are not going to be able to forgive you for forgiving.