Hello, I am a resident of the greater Boston Area. I heard what you did today, and I will be honest with you, my initial reaction to your heinous crime was disgust, anger, and hatred. That’s because just like you, I’m a sinner who desperately needs a savior. As my wife and I rushed home to the relative (perhaps illusory) safety of our apartment my mind began to think of all of the people who you hurt, some of whom you killed. Men, women… children. People who were just trying to celebrate a day where we overthrew those who were oppressing us to give way to freedom, ironically… probably the same kind of sentiments that are going to end up driving your reasons for doing this. I became angrier and angrier.
However, as my wife and I sat on our bed and prayed for the people of this city, I found my prayers moving in a direction that I did not expect. I began to pray for you. I began to pray that you would be brought to justice under the law, and I still pray that you will be. However, as I prayed I found my eyes welling up with tears. Not because of the tragedy of what you have done… but because of the tragedy that you are. I found my anger and hatred for you giving way to pity and concern. For as I said before, I need a savior just as desperately as you. The difference is that I have found mine.
Here is the instruction he gave his followers concerning people like you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
You see, you will be facing a lot of hatred and anger, and honestly you deserve every bit of it. If you were strapped into a chair and a bomb was set off next to you, it would not be an unjust response to your malice and hatred. We’re in that together. Although my sin hasn’t hurt as many people in my whole life as yours did today, it is no less severe than yours. Although my sin is not typically out of hatred for my fellow man, it is out of my inborn hatred and tendency to war against my Creator… just like yours. Our sin is not really all that different. And rather than hate you and seek for your harm, I am choosing right now in this moment to do what my Savior did for me… I am choosing to love you and forgive you. Not because you deserve it, not because you have earned it… precisely the opposite. I am choosing to forgive you because the grace of Christ that forgave me while I was still his enemy has welled up in me so much that it cannot but flow over onto you.
So please, I beg of you, turn to Christ. He is your absolute only hope. The anger in your heart cannot bring you satisfaction, the new government (or lack of government) will not bring you peace, whatever religious fanaticism you may be acting on will not save you. Only Christ can do that.
I forgive you, and I pray that Christ will make the forgiveness that I am confessing with my mouth and mind a reality in my heart and soul. Please, let his kindness move you to repentance. You are not so far that his hand cannot reach out and save you.
I sincerely hope that you read this, and I sincerely hope that someday I can count you as my brother or sister in Christ. I long for the day when your evil deeds and ways are a painful memory that God will use to bring glory to his name. I wait expectantly for the day that you will look into the eyes of those whom you have hurt and beg for forgiveness, and I pray that forgiveness will come.
I know it may be difficult to believe that forgiveness is possible, but right here and right now there is one person who has forgiven you. Turn your life to Christ and you can instantly and eternally make that four.
Do not delay, none of us are promised tomorrow… as you so potently demonstrated for all of us today. Turn to Christ and do not let this tragedy beget more tragedy.