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 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.