It was hard to miss the mysterious writing in the sky above Las Vegas, Nevada this past weekend. No one claimed credit for the message, “FORGIVE YOUR ENEMIES TODAY” that hung in puffs of white cloud in the early afternoon on Saturday, but many are talking about it.
Apparently skywriting is not an uncommon sight in Las Vegas, however, I have never seen it. In January, actor Shia LeBouf took his apology for allegedly plagiarizing a graphic artist’s work to the sky saying, “I am sorry Daniel Clowes.” The Skytypers fly 5 small airplanes in a tight formation while a computer releases environmentally friendly puffs that spell out the message that has been ordered. Their website explains that “skytyping is literally 1,000 times larger than any road side or aerial billboard… and delivers a lower cost per thousand [viewers] than any other medium.”
I have to say, their method certainly seems to work. Last Saturday’s message drew the attention of so many social media users who posted pictures of the overhead sermon that it ended up in international publications. While the message “FORGIVE YOUR ENEMIES TODAY” is not an exclusively biblical message, it is certainly a central theme of Christianity.
Paul wrote the Colossians telling them to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (3:13). To the Ephesians he wrote, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (4:31-32).
Jesus did not dance around the subject; he taught, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28), and explained further that “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that” (6:32-33). “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (6:35-36).
I always have the same reaction when I read the parable Jesus told about the unmerciful servant. First, I am filled with indignation and disgust for the servant who was forgiven the debt of 10,000 bags of gold and then went out and “found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins…. grabbed him and began to choke him, [demanding] ‘Pay back what you owe me!'” (Matthew 18:28). Second, I am reminded how much I have been forgiven and how my behavior mirrors this ungrateful servant when I do not forgive those who have wronged me.
The skytyping that appeared over Las Vegas was not a miraculous message from God. But it is God’s message to you and me. Who comes to mind when you read God’s message, “FORGIVE YOUR ENEMIES TODAY”?