God never gives up on us

Australia has two young men on death row in Indonesia.

Their days are numbered and could be killed by firing squad at any time.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were part of a group of eight young men and one woman who attempted to smuggle 8kgs of drugs into Australia strapped to their bodies ten years ago. The Indonesian government were alerted by Australia law enforcement officers and they were captured at the airport in Bali on their way home to Australia. The ringleaders, Chan and Sukumaran were given the death penalty, the remaining members of the “Bali Nine” have been given between 20 years to life in prison. 

There is no doubt of their guilt and they admit their wrong. 

Many Australians find the death penalty abhorrent, I am one of those people. But this post isn't about the death penalty and whether it is right or wrong.

It is about forgiveness.

These men have made terrible mistakes and need to pay for their crimes and they are. As the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop said in her speech to Parliament — they are "deeply, sincerely remorseful for their actions and both men have made extraordinary efforts to rehabilitate".  Andrew Chan has become a Christian pastor and ministers to the prisoners, offering support, encouragement and helps those that are sick or struggling. Myuran Sukumaran has become an artist and now runs art classes to prisoners which has made a remarkable difference. They are model inmates that any prison strives for. They have enriched the lives of many prisoners in Kerobokan prison and made it a far better place for them all. Even the head of the prison is in awe of their work. 

I have followed this story for a number of years and recently, after watching an ABC television documentary on their lives in Kerobokan prison, made me think of our lives and all the mistakes we have make. And yes, we make plenty and cannot sit in judgement of others who fail and fall. Not only do we make one mistake, we keep on making them. Whilst we haven't end up in prison on death row, our sinful behaviour isn't necessarily much better. 

But, Christ keeps on forgiving us and keeps on showing us love and patiences and the right path to take even when we keep on ignoring Him. These men have turned their lives around and even though they are in prison their thoughts these days are on others and that is what we need to do too. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Our thoughts need to be on those closest to us — our families and taking care of them, but MOST importantly, on Christ.  We too need to rehabilitate ourselves and change. We need to become new. Whilst we will always fall and tumble (none of us are perfect), like Chan and Sukumaran we do need to do our very best as we also have limited time on this earth and never know when our time done. 

So if you have fallen badly, walked away from Christ or perhaps stumble from time to time — Christ is waiting for you and will NEVER give up. Not only does He forgives our sins, but removes them completely from His presence. This is a profound! But we do need to truly receive Jesus as our Saviour and work hard on becoming more Christ like. However, we can not keep on sinning and expecting our sins to be washed away, it doesn't work like that — if God removes our sins and is so patient with us, we in return need to work extra hard to walk the straight and narrow.

And just like the families of Chan and Sukumaran who are heartbroken by the possibility of their son and brother dying, Christ doesn't want us to die without knowing Him and it breaks His heart when we reject Him. He wants us to come to Him and be saved, He is waiting for us, searching for us, just like the lost sheep in Matthew verse 18.  


What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

(Matthew 18:12-14)

*****

Comments

  1. God has given authority into the hands of earthly government and as such we are to obey them (unless they directly contravene God) and we are to accept the consequences they impose if we don't. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Rom. 13:1-4). There are consequences when we disobey the law and these individuals knew it when they committed their crimes. One wonders how many deaths they caused through their trade in drugs. Incidentally, I don't know much about this specific case as we don't get much news of it here. Note: this not about vengeance--eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth--but rather, the known consequences of their actions. For the ones that have been saved, they are indeed forgiven in God's sight as Christ has paid the price for their sins. They will also know, however, that repentance is taking God's side against themselves and accepting the consequences of their behaviour. Repentance to escape consequences is not repentance at all. Through the mercy of God we can be thankful that we often don't get what we deserve and He frequently gives us another chance. We can certainly pray that this is the case in this instance. I suspect that the only way the Indonesian government will commute the sentence is if it can be done without losing face--no government is going to be shamed into such a thing. By the way, this is neither a statement for or against the death penalty, nevertheless, I believe God has given that power into the hands of government if they so choose to use it.

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    1. I completely agree that what this group of men set out to do was very wrong and they knew the price they would pay if caught. They themselves admit this and have spoken about their guilt and what it has cost them and their families. Interestedly with this case, they were being tracked and would have been picked up either in Bali (where Australia Fed police were already waiting for them) or in Australia. These drugs, thankfully, would have never made it to Australian consumers.

      However, the previous government of Indonesia had changed their sentence from death to life, with the arrival of the new Indonesian President, this was reversed and I doubt they will back down due to what they promised prior to winning the election.

      However, my focus was less on their crimes and more on the fact that God forgive us our sins and as you say, frequently gives us another chance, which we often mess up.

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  2. I am with Nick! God puts the authorities in place, and we must obey them, or pay the consequences, no matter how harsh or inhumane they may be.
    All the same, if these people have repented before God, and their lives now give witness to this and continue to, this is something we can thank God for and give Him the glory for - this being our purpose.
    love,
    Bets

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    1. Regardless I don't support the death penalty, it's so wrong and I can't say, so be it. With this view point, Christains should not be protesting about abortions as that too is sanctioned by governments and legal.

      However, regardless, my purpose of writing this was to show that God does forgive is our sins which is wonderful, humans are not so forgiving.

      :))

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  3. God's forgiveness is full and complete when a person confesses and is fully repentant (what an incredible blessing! What incredible grace!)...
    The problem with people in the prison system is that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a 'conversion' and changing their life to look like or be 'Christian' - if they can look 'good' enough, there might be a change in their sentence. It's very hard to know if this man's conversion is real -- only God knows (and that's what really matters if he is going to be put to death). And, quite frankly, I'm happy to leave that with the Lord - there's enough else for us to be worrying about in our own lives!
    Repentance can be really difficult, even in the small things in our lives... True repentance is a turning away from sin, and some sins are difficult for people to turn away from (especially the little things that people might not notice so much, which decreases our accountability to our friends/family/neighbour, and makes it easier to not conquer) - and yet the Lord is so patient with us, and so forgiving. We get a glimpse of that in the Scriptures when Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive, and Jesus told him to keep forgiving even 490 times (seventy times seven)!
    Something else I've noticed is that often when someone says "I'm sorry" to someone else, if they respond at all they will respond by saying "That's okay". I don't know what that even means. What's okay? That they sinned? That they said sorry? It's NOT okay to sin!
    What about forgiveness? It's so rare these days to hear someone say "You're forgiven". So sad. :( God TELLS us we are forgiven when we confess and repent (in His Word and through peace in our souls); people should make sure they copy this example and verbalise their forgiveness too... Lack of real forgiveness can cause a lot of hurt and uncertainty which could be simply solved with those two words: "You're forgiven".
    Just my two cents.

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    1. I have thought the same as you about these young men, but from those who have meet them and got to know them (and spoken in documentaries), it would appear they are very sad about their crimes, upset about what they have done for their families and Andrew Chan in particular shares his faith with other prisoners. They aren’t the same men that got caught. But it isn’t, as you say, our place to question their faith. Interestedly, they aren't asking to be released, rather serve their time in prison (which is a life sentence) and carry on their work to help others.

      “I’m sorry” holds little meaning these days as it is rarely ever followed up by actions to prove that the person is truly sorry. Its easy to say with no strings attached. I read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography last year and one of the things he tells the those who thinks he wants revenge on those that locked him up for 27 years - he said no, he didn’t want revenge, rather he forgave them for what they did to him. A rare person say’s “I forgive you” these days.

      Fortunately for us, the Lord does wash away our sins and forgives us, but we do need to turn away from sin and not keep on repeating it.

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  4. This is a great post and very thought provoking. There seems to me to always be consequences for our actions whether good or bad. For the 2 men awaiting the death penalty the consequence for them is death, other sins attract other consequences but there is one thing that always remains the same and that is our God. I thank God that He is always there for us no matter what and in repentance He forgives and has provided for us eternal life with Him. Thank you for linking up with Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. There are always consequences and interestedly these two men are happy to remain in prison to pay their dues. I do pray that these men, if executed, go to their deaths with Christ in their hearts and lips. At least we know that even with our much smaller sins, God forgives us and provides eternal life - that is such a comfort.

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