Whatever you believe about theology, unless you’re a sociopath, you know that there’s power in persuading people from doing terrible things. It’s a visceral, raw, emotional power. Either that power is real, or it’s Pepsi.
Just about 2,000 years ago, the Bible tells us that one man’s love broke through. On Friday, he died on a cross (a historical event few dispute). He died at the moment the high priest was sacrificing a lamb for the sins of Israel as part of the Passover celebration. His cousin John the Baptist said about him, “behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” The priest’s lamb took away the sins of Israel, for one year. Jesus Christ, the God-man, took away the world’s sins, once and for all.
“God is love,” reads 1 John 4:8. Specifically, it says “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
People are born, and we live for ourselves. We don’t know the love God has for us because that love has not broken through our selfishness, our plans, our needs. At some point, our own will stands against a police riot line in our souls, and either we allow our rebellion to succeed, or love breaks through.
This is why the images of rebellion and redemption ring so familiar in every human being, all over the world, in every culture. But truth is only found in one power to save.
In 2008, victims of a shooting at Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Colorado forgave the killer, who went on to attack a church before himself being killed by a security officer. Many in the media were incredulous that victims would forgive a man who killed their friends in cold blood.
In 2012, a victim of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting forgave killer James Eagan Holmes after being shot three times by Holmes. “Of course, I forgive him with all my heart. When I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him — he’s just a lost soul right now,” Pierce O’Farrill told the Denver Post. Love broke through.
In July, 2016, a father pulled up on a Georgia deputy who had just pulled the man’s son over for running a stop sign. With police officers being executed or shot at, Deputy Brandon Wiggins got ready for combat. But instead the man prayed with him. “When he started praying, man, I don’t know what happened. It caught me, I guess. Good Lord was there is all I can say,” Wiggins told News Radio 106.7’s Christy Hutchings.
I covered that event. It opened the tear valves. Forgiveness, redemption, and love have more power than anything humans encounter in this world, because love broke through.
Jesus broke through sin and death. Without death, no power on earth can stop love.
TobyMac sang, “When love broke thru, you found me in the darkness, wandering through the desert.” That’s where we all are without love, truth, and the power of God–wandering through life without hope. “A hopeless fool,” as TobyMac sung.
A rebellious son. A searching father. An act of violence. A moment of redemption. The power of prayer. These are real. Love broke through nearly 2,000 years ago, and in every human life, in every conflict, in every violent act of hate that mankind can perpetrate in darkness, love can break through today.
Even right now, because Love lives.