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