This story came to me as a tweet this week, haunted me for a day and a night, compelling me to share it.
The author is unknown and the facts cannot be authenticated.
Yet like a biblical parable, the message touches my heart and causes me to think and perhaps change the way I react to the mistakes of others and the ones I make.
In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds him.
For two days they will say to the man all the good things he has done. The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes. The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.
They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he has been temporarily disconnected: ‘I am good.’
In the compassion shown to others in their tribal family, these people display the teaching given to us in Colossians 3:12-14:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.
How can we change our response to the sinners in our families, churches and communities by meditating on the truths in this story? Our response to ourselves when we sin?