Tombstone is my favorite movie of all time. After his brother is killed, Wyatt Earp goes all vigilante and takes out every person connected to the group that killed his brother. He is calm, collected, and uncompromising. He is unrelenting in his pursuit of justice. Granted, I am not saying that gunning people down with your friend Doc is necessarily just. But it was in Wyatt’s mind, and the way he held to guns (puns are cool, right?) in the movie was remarkable. (Note: I am operating under the assumption that Tombstone is a 100% accurate interpretation of Earp’s life.)
God also wants me to be full of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Not only is “an eye for an eye” no longer cool, but I am supposed to go so far as to turn the other cheek. I am supposed to forgive my neighbor upwards of 490 times. Since God is love and Jesus is God, and I am supposed to imitate Christ with my life, I am supposed to be love. Unconditional, agape type love. Love that can only be found is the welcoming arms of Barney the Purple Dinosaur.
I tried very hard to find another example of exceptional love, mercy, and forgiveness. Trust me, Barney gets on my nerves as much as he does yours. However, the attitude of unconditional love and being one big family is actually very much in line with the loving nature that Christians are called to. Grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, being nonjudgmental, and not being afraid to show our love. We can all learn a lot from Barney.
I constantly find myself trying to find the middle ground between Wyatt Earp and Barney the Purple Dinosaur. I want to be able to love and seek justice. I want to do what is right, and be able to show mercy. From the images we see of love and justice today, it seem near impossible for the two to coexist.
However, when you really look at Jesus’ actions through the gospels, he lays out a great blueprint for making it happen. He is merciful and readily forgives, yet He is quick to call people out on their wrongdoings. He heals miraculously, and then turns over tables. Jesus teaches unpopular truths and confronts religious leaders, and then lays down His life so that you and I can have eternal life.
As usual, Jesus is the perfect example. If you, like me, are trying to find the balance between love and justice, just read your Bible and practice what Jesus did. Will we mess it up? Absolutely. But that is why His forgiveness is so important. We will never be exactly like Christ, but His mercy allows us to give it our best shot.