By Harriet Coombe
Have you heard of the new Netflix television series Beef?
I had heard it was wildly popular and thought I would check it out.
It’s a dark comedy drama series by Korean director Lee Sung Jin. In the first episode, we are introduced to the titular “beef” – Danny and Amy are involved in a road rage incident. Neither will let the incident go, and the strangers quickly become enemies. Over the course of the season, their acts of revenge only escalate.
Without wanting to give too much away, the series does not end well for anyone.
After watching Beef, I cannot recommend it. It’s incredibly graphic in parts. Having said that, I found some of the themes interesting and it got me thinking about how it may have ended differently had the characters embraced forgiveness rather than revenge.
In episode three, Danny visits a church. The church band starts to play Oh Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship. The words of the song speak to Danny, who has hit rock-bottom:
“Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling.
“Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling.
“O come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
“Leave behind your regrets and mistakes. Come today, there’s no reason to wait. Jesus is calling.
“Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy. From the ashes, a new life is born. Jesus is calling…”
Danny is overwhelmed with emotion and breaks down during the song. He explains to a family member later that he “had an encounter with God”. But the remaining seven episodes make it clear that while he may have had a moment with God, he didn’t give his life to Him or allow God to change him.
But what if he had? What if he put his faith and trust in Jesus as his Lord and Saviour? What if he received Jesus’ gift of forgiveness of his sins and chose to forgive Amy in turn? It would have been a much shorter television series but I’m sure it would have had a much happier ending!
So what does it mean to forgive someone? It’s not saying that what was done to you doesn’t matter or is okay. I like Tim Sledge’s definition from his book, Making Peace with Your Past: “Forgiveness means that you no longer regard the offending person as indebted to you.”
Forgiveness is not letting someone off the hook – it is giving them to God and trusting Him to deal with them. When you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean no one pays for what they did, it means you acknowledge that Someone already has.
When Jesus died on the cross, He died for everything you have done wrong as well as everything everyone else has done wrong. He died for the very things we struggle to forgive. If we refuse to forgive, it’s as if we are saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough to pay for this particular sin.
Danny and Amy’s beef starts as smaller prank-style acts of revenge, but it increases to dangerous heights. I’m sure there was a point at which both of them would have said that forgiveness was impossible. When I think about forgiving the impossible, I think about Corrie ten Boom.
Corrie and her family helped many Jewish people escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust in World War II by hiding them in their home. But they were caught and Corrie and her sister Betsie were arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where Betsie was killed.
After the war, Corrie became an author and public speaker. In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie describes the time the guard who had taken her sister’s life approached her after her talk. He asked her if she believed what she had just said about forgiveness. She nodded and he extended his hand and asked her to forgive him.
Corrie froze. She did not have the ability to even reach out her hand, so she prayed and asked Jesus to help her. In that moment she felt God’s forgiveness flow through her, down her arm and into her extended hand.
Corrie forgave the man who killed her sister.
Corrie said, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” That means forgiveness is possible, despite how you feel.
Like Corrie, we can ask God to help us to forgive the impossible. But first, ask Him to forgive you for how you have wronged Him. Take a look at the prayer on page 11 as a guide.
Please note, forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing abusive behaviour to continue – you can forgive and put boundaries in place to protect yourself and/or those around you.
By Harriet Coombe