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Secret Keepers Week 4 – A Christian Book Study

WELCOME!

This is a Christian book study based on my new young adult dystopian novel Secret Keepers.

If interested, you can learn more about the book or get a copy here.

Basic instructions:

Go through the post as it appears, playing any videos as they come up. Off to the right-hand side, you will find a few Discussion Questions. I, and I’m sure others, would love to hear your answers to those questions!

You can post your answers, along with any questions you might have, in the comment section at the bottom of this page at any time.

. . . .

Today’s lesson begins with this focusing song by Tenth Avenue North. Press play, sit back, listen, and meditate on the message…

Forgiveness…

Discussion Question #1

Is there a difference between Justice and Revenge? If so, what is it?

I wrote Secret Keepers during my first and second years of seminary. During that time, I also discovered the above song and must have listened to it hundreds of times, over and over again. Because this song embodies the main theme of this book, particularly from Megan’s, Hetty’s (and her mother Georgiana’s) perspective.

The writers of the New Testament talk about the need to forgive the sins of others as often as they talk about the need to confess and repent of our own sins.

Discussion Question #2

Today, it is popular to argue that we can forgive wrongdoers, but still hold them (usually legally) responsible for their crimes. But is this true? Or, to what extent is this true? When Jesus prayed asking the father the “forgive” the people who were, at that moment, actively killing him (Luke 23:34), did he still mean for those people to answer for their actions? Did the apostle Paul ever have to answer (in any judicial sense) for all the things he had done to Christians before becoming a Chrisitan (see for example Acts 22 and Galatians 1)? On the other hand, what about all the biblical passages that demand “eye for eye” justice (Leviticus 24:19-21, for just one example)? How can we both seek justice and forgive?

Both confession and forgiveness are things that we as human beings would rather not do.

But of the two, forgiveness is the more unnatural act.

Self-defense instincts make it difficult for us to admit when we’re wrong–but those same instincts also compel us to make nice with our social group. Seeking reconciliation, or confession – that is, requesting access back into the group – is, in many cases, an act of self-preservation.

Forgiveness is not.

Forgiveness goes against the instinct of self-preservation and against the natural law of cause and effect. When someone harms us, one of the most basic laws in this universe (cause and effect) tells us that we have the right to revenge (or, the nicer term for it: Justice).

Forgiveness is unnatural.

It is also the most fundamental mandate of the Christian faith.

Losing…

The above song captures a reality about forgiveness that I have not known any other song, or sermon, or book to capture.

It is a song about forgiveness, titled “Losing.” And that title is explained in the lines:

“…still I wrestle with this / to lose the pain that’s mine / seventy times seven times / Lord it doesn’t seem right / for me to turn a blind eye… / Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them / ’cause I feel like the one losing…”

(from the album “The Struggle,” 2012, Tenth Avenue North, my emphasis added).

 

To forgive is to lose, to voluntarily give up our natural right to balance the scales of justice. Pure justice demands that all wrongdoing be purged – wrongdoers along with it.

But remember back to week 1 of this study: As Christians, we are called not only to “seek justice.” As much as we are called to justice, we are called just as much to mercy and humility.

Forgiveness, Sin, and Woundedness

Discussion Question #3

In what ways are the main characters, Hetty, Henley, and Elias, wounded by the destruction of Kohar? How do these wounds divide them, and their country? How might they bring them together?

Discussion Question #4

At the beginning of chapter 13, Dr. Morry says that “Everyone has a different theory about why” the destruction of Kohar happened,” (pg. 180). Why do you think it happened? What are some real-life examples, large and small, of the same kind of thing?

Discussion Question #5

At the end of chapter 13, Megan reacts quite badly to the suggestion that Elias could have been “hurt” by the visit to Kohar (pg. 193). Why does she react this way? What are some reasons that we have in our own lives for discounting the feelings and hurts of other people? Can members of the oppressive and privileged class also be counted among the victimized and the wounded?

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