Betcha didn't know a TV show review could be preparation for Easter Sunday, did you?
Well, I didn't either, till five minutes ago when I finished an episode of Bonanza titled "Showdown". Sorry to spoil it for anyone, but to make the point I really have to run through the whole story:
A gang just robbed a bank in Virginia City, where the Cartwrights live. The gang leader sends one of his guys to the Cartwright ranch (the Ponderosa) to become a hired hand and pick up what news he can, while the rest of the gang lies low. So Sam heads off, gets hired, gets suspected by Little Joe but no one else, finds out the Army is coming in to look for the gang, and goes back to his boss to report this.
Little Joe happens to be following him and gets caught. The boss sends Sam back to the Ponderosa to find out from which direction the Army will be coming. Little does he know the sheriff is waiting at the Ponderosa for him. He has found out about Sam's prison record (true) and wants to take him in. Ben Cartwright says that's no valid charge and Sam will stay at the ranch with them, sheriff leaves. Sam, however, does not thank the Cartwrights, instead he clears out, clubbing Adam over the head when Adam starts talking to him.
Sam gets back to his boss, finds him beating Little Joe, manages to save little Joe by suggesting an alternate plan and then he and Joe gang up to beat the gang. Little Joe promises Sam he has friends now. Meanwhile, Ben, Adam, and Hoss are coming after Sam with a bunch of men, having decided they were wrong about Sam and looking for Little Joe. They see Little Joe coming in the distance, and Sam with him, and one of them says, "I guess we were all wrong about Sam". Show ends.
I don't know about you, but I can imagine two untold scenarios:
1) Sam goes on to work for the Ponderosa and no one ever finds out he was part of the gang
2) They find out he was part of the gang but he gets off because he helped bring in the gang
But regardless of what happens to Sam, what strikes me is how the Cartwrights deal with him. Most of them trust him, despite knowing nothing about him. Little Joe doesn't trust him, but once Sam starts fighting on the right side, he's his friend. But why does Sam start fighting on the right side? Because the Cartwrights are good people and do good to him, even when others are suspecting him. They DON'T know that he's with the gang, but they are good, so they believe in him.
Similarly and yet powerfully opposite, we can now be on the right side. Why? Because God is a good God and did good to us, even when we were His enemies. He KNEW we were His enemies, but He is so good that He wasn't just willing to "give us a chance" to prove ourselves to Him - He knew we couldn't do it, so He gave us the chance, at His own expense. His goodness and love are overwhelming.