Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prisoner of Love

When I think of Jesus’s physical birth and how God could have arranged the birth anywhere and in any setting, it speaks of “humility” right off the bat. God purposely chose such humble beginnings (a young, poor couple as parents and a dirty, stinky stable for the location) as the opening scene in the greatest love story ever told. Fast-forward to the final scene of Jesus’ natural life and you see Him being treated as the worst of criminals. He was spat upon, beaten and flogged beyond recognition, yet He was completely innocent. Jesus was a prisoner of love, by His choice, and He even chose to forgive every single person who mistreated Him.

Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner of love, too. She was an amazing Christian woman who survived extreme brutality in a German concentration camp. Corrie and her family were arrested after having rescued many Jews from certain death during the Nazi Holocaust. I have seen a quote by her twice in the past few days: "Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you." It led me to revisit her book, The Hiding Place, and an excerpt that revealed how God miraculously changed her hardened heart. You may have heard this specific story, too, about when she spoke at a church service in Munich and was confronted by a former guard from Ravensbruck. As soon as she saw him, the memories of the horrible mistreatment came flooding back.

The guard approached Corrie, following her message about forgiveness, to thank her, adding, “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

When he thrust his hand out to shake hers, Corrie kept her hand at her side. Even though she had preached so often about the need to forgive, angry thoughts coursed through her veins. Immediately, however, she saw the sin of her own unforgiveness and realized, “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.”

As she took his hand an amazing thing happened. Beginning in her shoulder and running down her arm, a current of love seemed to pass from her to him. It was of such intensity that it almost overcame her.

Then Corrie wrote two amazing sentences: “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.”

This Christmas season, allow God to change your heart. Instead of being a prisoner to hatred and unforgiveness, allow God, through the power of Jesus Christ, to make you a prisoner of love. You can forgive those who have wronged you. It is the greatest gift you can give yourself. In exchange, you will receive the priceless gifts of peace, joy and love.

“If you forgive people their sins, your Father in heaven will forgive your sins also,” (Matthew 6:14).

In awe of His love,

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