Marvel at the following true story (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/11/my-grandfathers-whole-family-murdered-but-he-forgave-killers).
In 1945, a German youth named Czeslaw Godlewski joined a gang that went around the countryside stealing what it could from the poor farmers who had survived the war. At one farm owned by a man named Wilhelm Hamelmann, they gunned down everyone in his family, 12 members. Wilhelm Hamelmann, though severely injured, alone survived the bullet wounds. Godlewski was arrested and sent to prison for twenty years.
When Godlewski completed his sentence, the state would not release him because he had no one to take him in. When Wilhlem Hamelmann learned of this, he asked that Godlewski be released into his custody. When asked why he would ask for such a thing, Hamelmann replied, “Christ died for my sins and forgave me. Should I not then forgive this man?”
Wilhlem Hamelmann eventually wrote a book and described how he prayed on the night of the murder, and was granted peace and strength. He details his thoughts as he left the cellar: “What kind of God allows such a thing to happen? How can you reconcile this with ‘love thy enemies’? When people have caused you immeasurable suffering, you have to demand vengeance.”
He adds: “It became immediately apparent to me that the enemy had struck at my sense of reason, and if I were to lose this battle, my whole self would be lost.” And then something that many will find incomprehensible: “The Lord granted me love directly – His love – for these poor people seduced by Satan.… His mercy was my mercy. His forgiveness was my forgiveness.”
How do you forgive someone who has brought such death and destruction upon you? Not in your own ability! Not at all! We can only do so because of Christ’s supernatural grace and mercy in our lives.
Because we have received compassion and forgiveness from Jesus Christ, we can now extend compassion and forgiveness to others. We find it throughout Scripture: What God does To you, He wants to do Through you.
Jesus died on the cross to bring us forgiveness from sin and He rose victoriously from the grave to prove that what He had done – become our sin offering – was effective. What He has done for us should transform our lives and make a difference in how we relate to others.
The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us (or a sin offering), so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Praise His name forever more!
This Sunday, April 11, we will celebrate Friend Day. Invite your friends to enjoy the 10:35am worship service with you and stay for a potluck Fellowship Lunch that will take place right after the service. Bring your favorite foods to add to the table. It will be a wonderful time of blessing together so please do not miss it.
If you are not able to join us in person in the building at 10:35am for worship, please join us Online for the Live broadcast on Facebook (Search: Honolulu AG). It will be uploaded later that day to our website (honoluluag.org) and YouTube channel (Search: Honolulu Assembly of God).
The 56th District Conference of the Hawaii Assemblies of God will take place April 12-14 at First Assembly (Red Hill). The evening worship sessions begin at 6:30pm and are open to the public. Special speakers include Rick DuBose, AG Assistant General Superintendent, and Choco de Jesus, AG General Treasurer. Check it out!
Aloha and Aloha ke Akua!