Summary: A call to ask Jesus for His forgiveness and thus allow God to overcome evil with good.
“Let Evil Ruin Itself”
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
The famous autobiography of Corrie Ten Boom, called The Hiding Place, tells how the Ten Booms, a Christian family living during the Nazi occupation in World War 2 risked life and limb in order to save Jews and others from certain death in concentration camps.
Eventually, Corrie and her family were caught and sent to live in a concentration camp called Ravensbruck.
Corrie was the only member of her family who survived to tell the story.
And Corrie became a much sought after speaker and writer.
In the book she recounts an amazing experience which occurred after the war.
“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck…”, Corrie writes…
“…And suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing…” her sister Betsie’s “pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing.
‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulin.’ He said.
‘To think that, as you say, He [Jesus] has washed my sins away!’”
Corrie continues to write: “His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people…the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?
Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand.
I could not.
I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.
And so again I breathed a silent prayer.
Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened.
From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.
When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
All of us, every human being, created in the image of God, has this capacity to love.
We may not exercise it, but it is available to us through Christ, through the grace which surrounds everyone of us.
For many, the idea of the image of God has been linked to those unique abilities that we humans have that set us apart from other creatures.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, saw the image of God not so much in terms of what we possess ourselves, but as the way we relate to God and then live out that relationship in the world.
As those endowed with the image of God we are to receive the love of God and then reflect that love toward all other creatures.
We humans were created to be mirrors of God, but as a result of the Fall this natural image of God in us has been corrupted.
According to Wesley, instead of reflecting the image of God, we reflect the very “image of the devil,” and he sees no stronger evidence of this fact than in our universal practice of resorting to war in order to settle our disputes.
“There is still greater and more undeniable proof that the very foundations of all things, civil and religious, are utterly out of course in the Christian as well as the heathen world,” writes Wesley, “There is war….
War, revenge and violence are a natural outgrowth of our Fallen Nature...
…but as Christians, we are called to regain that image of God for which we were originally created!
We are to be new creations…
…not of this world…
…but of the kingdom of God!
Therefore, as Paul instructs us in our Epistle Lesson for this morning we are to Love sincerely with a love that is real, without selfish motives.
We are to share with those in need.
We are to pray for and bless those who hurt us.
We are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
We are to “Live in harmony…not be proud…be willing to associate with people of low position…”
…We are “not to repay anyone evil for evil.”
…We are not to take revenge, but we are to feed our enemies, give them a drink…
…we are to love others with such a genuine love that it will move others to repentance and salvation…