When I arrived at our church offices early this morning I got a shock. The main office door had been efficiently kicked in and the place was a mess. Some time during the night we’d had a break-in by somebody who knew exactly what they were looking for. They went straight for the target, took it, and left. It was done in darkness, in the shroud of secrecy. Perhaps with a small torch to guide the way, but probably not much more.
So now, with the police and forensic visits all done, I’m sitting processing what happened and my mind turns to thinking through how we respond. And I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the perfect response to this would be another, much bigger, break and enter. But it’s not revenge I have in mind. Quite the opposite.
How should we respond to wrongdoing in general? Well surely for Christians a healthy dose of self-awareness is asked for. The Apostle Paul, reflecting on his own chequered past, had this to say:
1Tim. 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Every one of us needs the forgiveness that God brings in Jesus because every one of us has things that need forgiving. Jesus reminds us that God sees even what we do in secret (Matt. 6:4) and exposes the sinful depths of our heart for what they really are (Mark 7:20-23). His ability to know exactly what we have done surpasses even the most able forensic team that the police can send out. There is no hiding from the magnifying glass and x-ray of God’s piercing gaze. There is no plea on the last day but “guilty”.
But that is not the end of the story, for in the death and resurrection of Jesus there is forgiveness and new life available and it actually comes about in a most remarkable way.
God himself, commits a break and enter. He knows exactly what He is looking for, breaks down the door of our resistance, and lets Himself in.
2Cor. 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
The story of the Christian is of the man or woman who experiences God’s break and enter. God bursts into the hearts of men and shines his light so that we will see just who Jesus is and respond to Him in faith and trust and know the glorious forgiveness that He brings. I’m so grateful for this break and enter into my own heart, despite it not being at my own invitation. It was exactly what was needed to break the secret darkness of night that I was living in.
Our church is now praying that we would have the opportunity to be involved in such a break and enter in our own thief’s life. It would be wonderful to respond with grace. When one of my church wardens found out his immediate response was “when you catch up with him you’ll have to give him the candlesticks!” He was thinking of this famous scene from Les Miserables:
We’re getting our candlesticks ready! Will you please pray with us that this break and enter will result in another much larger break and enter?
See also our church’s response: Dear Thief – a message of love for the thief who robbed us
This Post Has 7 Comments
An interesting idea David but I’m afraid I disagree with you particularly about the the idea that God would “break and enter”. In The Book of Revelation 3:21 it/Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” It’s obviously not talking on the physical level but on the spiritual level about the way God enters our mind. God, who is Love Itself and as such constantly yearns to save everyone, will never force Himself on us by overriding our free will (which is what “breaking and entering” implies).
If He did, He would be turning us from human beings, with the potential to become in the image and likeness of God, into robots. This would thwart His plan for humans and imply that God (who is Almighty) had failed. God gifts us with rationality and free-will and reveals the truth about spiritual things to us in His Word so that we can respond. The kindness and forgiveness of others may help to inspire a positive response (as it did with Jean Valjean) but we are always free to kick those who inspire us and God who inspires them, in the teeth and take the negative path.
I would also suggest that there is a difference between the theft of Valjean and your thieves. Although it was not shown in your short clip, Valjean did not “break and enter”. He was invited in to sup and spend the night and took advantage of the situation. He stole from dire necessity as he would have done also when first imprisoned 19 years earlier for stealing a loaf of bread. That sort of necessity does not exist in this country where there are easily accessible charity organisations to assist in cases of poverty. The odds are your thieves were looking for cash (or things to turn into cash) for drugs. One would certainly not want to hand back the loot to them if they were caught like Valjean.
I believe that we should have pity for those who choose to act in this way and help in any way possible (without aiding their evil ways) to bring them round to a more human way of thinking and acting. Your article inspired me to look up and watch the entire movie (I found a 1957 version on Youtube). I was struck by Valjean’s response to Javert. When Javert asked why he was letting him go, Valjean replied, “I pitied you.” (or words to that effect). IOW, thinking and acting as God would have us do – from mercy and love.
Apples and Oranges, Ralph. Rev. 3:20 is referring to those who are already Christians but are lukewarm and who need to reengage – specifically the Church in Laodicea.
I find that a strange claim David. So, are you saying that God deals with gentiles by overriding the free- will He has gifted them with – turning them into robots (a person changed without their consent)? Then somehow they magically regain their free-will and some – Laodiceans – lose their passion for religion/Christianity so, second time round, God uses a different tactic – knocking on the door of their heart. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
I think it’s a universal spiritual law that God will never force anyone in religious/spiritual matters because to do so is to take away their humanness – the ability to think truth and will good. IMO, the purpose of revelation is to appeal to our rationality (God’s other gift to us). “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, (Isaiah 1:18) What other purpose could it have? If we don’t make the decision to follow God freely, how can we feel as if we own our decision? Anyone ‘convinced’ against their will, is of the same opinion still.
When we use the two human gifts God has given us properly we place ourselves within the order he has designed. Provided we acknowledge that the inspiration and power to do so comes from God, we do not take any credit for doing so but retain our free-will to act as a willing conduit for God’s love.
No, no I’m not.
I keep forgetting that you’re a Pelagian. Thanks for the reminder.
That’s a nasty habit you have of ad hominem attacks rather than addressing the point being argued. I will pray that your church has the opportunity to show grace to the thief, and to be the agent of God in their life. I will also pray that people can comment in disagreement with you and not be put down.
Greg. Could you point us to a single ad hominem attack here please? Could you also point to someone that I’ve disagreed with here and simply put down? Just give us the link and we can all see the evidence for your claim.
Or, alternatively, will you retract your accusation?
If it turns out you’re not able to substantiate your accusation then I’ll just have to put you on manual moderation. Your call.