Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hitler, Hell and Atonement

I recently watched a movie about the Holocaust. Seeing families torn apart and children murdered made me feel an emotion I don’t often experience: anger. Most people will tell you that I’m a pretty easy going guy. I don’t get upset about most things. But when I see wickedness at its worse my sense of justice wells up. It infuriates me. Similarly, I’ve had people sit in my office and tell me they were abused as children. They still live with the scars today. My soul aches. Someone has to answer for this. We just can’t let this kind of evil go unaddressed. Worse than rape or murder would be to pretend they weren’t that bad. It would be like telling the victims that their pain doesn’t matter. To be brutally honest, in those moments when I hear about things like that it makes me glad there is a hell. Of course, in these moments I am forgetting how evil I am.

We don’t want God to wink at sin…unless it is ours.
Last night, I attended our Good Friday Service. It is a sobering affair. The pastor wears black. The band plays dark mournful songs about the suffering of Christ. Instead of a sermon Jim (our pastor) read a list of sins written on bricks. As he read the bricks, he tossed them into a rusty metal wheelbarrow. Each one makes a hollow, metallic noise. Some of the sins were murders and abuse. Others related to bitterness and deceit. All of them made the same heavy noise. In that place, hearing all those sins listed together, I didn’t want God to ignore any of them not even mine. They were all horrible. That same sense of justice that made me want punishment for Hitler, rapists and murderers made me call out for justice for my own sins. I am a wicked man. My sin weighed heavy on that cross. I deserve death.

At the end of the service, as everyone sat with the reality of their sin Jim pushed the wheelbarrow across the stage and dumped the bricks at the foot of the cross. The weight of my sins and the worlds were placed on Christ. Justice was served but at the expense of God’s Son. It was a powerful image.

Feeling the weight of my sin has helped me to see the greatness of God’s grace. The God of justice is also the God of grace, and my sin has made that grace very costly. Praise God for His justice and His grace. I am a bad man who has seen someone go to death for me. Grace is good and I want it for the worst offenders just as it was given to me.

Do you think that it is a good thing to wish for grace for rapists and mass murderers? How does it make you feel to think that Hitler could have gone to heaven if he had surrendered His life to Christ?

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