“But I say to you that hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. 31 And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” –Luke 6:27-31
Our faith calls us to love, to love God and to love our neighbor. Christians have the great privilege to love…no exceptions. It is a high calling. It is a difficult calling. Luke records the expanse of love, to which we are called, when he shares these challenging words of Jesus in Luke, chapter 6.
When I read the words, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” I cannot help but think of the life and work of Corrie Ten Boom. The life and faith of Corrie Ten Boom has been a blessing to so many people around the world. Corrie Ten Boom was living with her family in Holland when the German army invaded in 1940. During the German occupation the Ten Boom family worked to help hide and smuggle Jews to free and liberated areas. Because of their efforts to protect and save so many from certain death, they were themselves arrested, imprisoned and later sent to concentration camps.
Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, just outside of Berlin. It was there that they would experience the evil of the incarceration at these camps. The forced labor, deplorable conditions, and harsh treatment of the prisoners led to almost certain death. It was at Ravensbruck that Betsie would die. Corrie Ten Boom was later released and returned home.
After the end of the war Corrie began to work to help survivors of the concentration camps return to life in society. During this time, she also began a ministry that would become a global ministry, preaching around the world.
It was in 1947 that Corrie went to Germany to preach. In her own words, she had come to Germany with the message, “God Forgives. When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever.” As she spoke this simple, yet powerful message she made eye contact with a man in the back of the room. After the service was over he approached her. As he came close to her, she realized that he had been a guard at Ravensbruck.
In an instant her heart raced and as she said, “My blood seemed to freeze.” This man who was once her captor was now attending worship with her. He told her he had recently become a Christian. He spoke of God’s forgiveness and how grateful he was that God forgave, but he also thought it was important to ask her for forgiveness, as well.
I cannot imagine how difficult it was for her in that moment. How would you react? How would I react? Corrie took a moment and asked God for strength, lifted her hand and said, “I forgive you brother, with all my heart!”
What an amazing act of love! What a beautiful picture of grace! She did not dismiss the atrocities that took place in Ravensbruck or in Holland, but she offered the same grace that God had already offered. When we choose to love, we open ourselves, and all involved, to the possibility of healing and freedom from the burdens that bind our hearts and souls. When we choose to love God and our neighbors, as challenging as it may be at times, we fulfill the high calling of Christ.
–Rev. Keith King, Online Campus Pastor