In the Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis tells a story about a man who lived a good Christian life but refuses to enter into heaven because he discovers that murderers, thieves and even a former enemy of his are welcome there as well. The man complains about "bleeding charity" and demands "his rights." This story, I think, is Lewis's answer to the biblical injunction that unless we forgive, we will not be forgiven. Lewis seems to be saying that all of us are welcome at God's table, but so are repentant murderers and thieves, and we have to be willing to live with that. Thus, it is not so much that we are turned away from God's Kingdom because of our unwillingness to forgive as much as it is that we turn ourselves away.
I think of Lewis's story when I reflect upon the reaction that some have had to the return of Michael Vick to professional football. As many of you know Vick was an All-Pro quarterback before he was imprisoned for his role in an illegal dog-fighting ring. After spending 21 months in prison, he signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent a year playing behind quarterback Donovan McNabb and has now apparently won the starting quarterback position for the Eagles (McNabb was traded tom the Washington Redskins in the offseason)
Not everyone is happy about this. Choruses of boos greeted Vick's return to football, and it is my sense that there are many who would be quite happy if he never played another down in his life. Frankly, I'm not sure what more he can do. He has paid his debt to society and has expressed regret for what he did. And while I can't judge the sincerity of his repentance, I'm fairly certain that he's more than welcome at God's table. The question, it seems to me is: Are the rest of us are ready to join him?