...THE WAY TO BE SAVED

"The way to be saved..."
"The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife.  They are the children of peace who have beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and know of no war.
...Since we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, how can we then fight our enemies with the sword?..
Spears and swords of iron we leave to those who, alas, consider human blood and swine's blood of well-nigh equal value..."
 
(Menno Simons, 1539)

Another lecture on pacifism?  How boring!  O.K.   If you like adventures, please, read the following story.  Read first, think later!

PREDICTING THE FUTURE

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.
This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved."
She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.
When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice."
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.   After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.   Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.
The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted,
"Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be savedyou and your household."

(Acts 16:16-31)

Well, "the jailer called for lights, rushed in and..."   Aren't you puzzled?  Wasn't it predictable for the guardian to kill the prisoners?  No doubt, it was prescribed to him by the Roman Law.  But, why on earth, did Paul not stay silent?  The Almighty God had already answered his prayers, and the last hindrance on the way to freedom was going to be smitten away.   Oh, stupid Paul!  For God's sake, please, keep silent!

"Don't harm yourself!  We are all here!"

The jailer rushed in, but he did not bark a command: "Prisoners, caps off!"  The love of Paul had transformed the jailer's heart miraculously:  "Lords, what should I do to be saved?"   Paul and Silas corrected him: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." 

Paul really loved to show people the way to be saved.  Killing people is not the way to be saved: it doesn't work.  If you don't believe me, I have another witness, who preferred love to hatred, though he had all the reasons to hate people.

...One day I went to see him.  He was feverish.  "It doesn't matter that I'm going to the gas chamber," he said to me.  "That's how it has to be, I reckon.  But when the war is over and you get out..."  "I don't know whether I'll survive, Toleczka," I interrupted.  "You will survive," he went on stubbornly, "and you will go to see my mother.  There will be no borders after the war, I know, and there will be no countries, no concentration camps, and people will never kill one another..."
(Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, Penguin Books, New York, 1976, p.129)

The little Toleczka went to the gas chamber.  There was no earthquake in Auschwitz to release him.  Tadeusz Borowski, who told us the story, survived the concentration camp, but not the after-war trauma: he used the gas from his own cooking stove to end up his life.  Most probably, he missed to stop the war within his own heart; and there was no Paul in the kitchen to stop him.

If you posess the gift of predicting future, what future would you like to predict?  The World War III?  Or having a barbecue with your former jailer?  The first choice looks quite predictable: people like fighting each other.   The second one requires more personal efforts: here, we have to fight with ourselves.   Can I choose to love my jailer (or, prisoner?) to show him the way to be saved?  My scars are painful, but the time is short: we can miss the opportunity to save our own jailers on the very next September 11th.

If the Lord God has set you free, don't forget to set free your jailer.  Stop the war within your heart.  Please, don't cheat yourself: if you don't stop the buck, the buck stops you.  And this time the buck stops not in the Oval Office.  The buck stops here.

 


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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations used on these pages are from the New International Version of the Bible.
Questions, comments?  Please, feel free to contact me: Leonid Maharinsky 
Leonid Maharinsky 2002. 

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