The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, no person in all of East Germany was more despised than the former Communist dictator Erich Honecher. He had been stripped of all his offices. Even the Communist Party rejected him. Kicked out of his villa, the new government refused him and his wife new housing. The Honechers were homeless and destitute.
Enter pastor Uwe Holmer, director of a Christian help center, north of Berlin. Made aware of the Honechers’ straits, Pastor Holmer felt it would be wrong to give them a room meant for even needier people. So, the pastor and his family decided to take the former dictator into their own home!
Erich Honecher’s wife, Margot, had ruled the East German educational system for twenty-six years. Eight of Pastor Holmer’s ten children had been turned down for higher education due to Mrs. Honecher’s policies, which discriminated against Christians. Now the Holmers were caring for their personal enemy—the most hated man in Germany. This was so unnatural, so unconventional, so Christlike.
By the grace of God, the Holmers loved their enemies, did them good, blessed them, and prayed for them. They turned the other cheek. They gave their enemies their coat (their own home).
They did to the Honechers what they would have wished the Honechers would do to them. (Reported by George Cowan to Campus Crusade at the U.S. Division Meeting Devotions, Thursday, March 22, 1990.)
1 Peter 3:9 is somewhat of a loose quote from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Peter writes, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” I love the title of John R.W. Stott’s study book on The Sermon on the Mount. The title is Christian Counter-Culture. What the Honechers received from the Holmers was completely counter to the world’s culture. The Honechers had been brutal dictators and deserved the worse treatment possible and they knew it. When Christ-followers treated them with grace, they didn’t know what to do. Had they given them what they deserved and turned them away with a scowl, they would have understood and moved on. However, the Holmers gave them the “Jesus treatment.” Such treatment offered an opportunity to witness their faith to these atheistic communists. Grace gives an open door that can never be breached by hostility, especially when deserved. Grace, by its very definition, is getting kindness when hostility is deserved. Some have called it “unmerited favor.” Jesus gave us love when we deserved hate. He gave us heaven when we deserved hell. Since we have received His grace, we should extend it to others.
That is why a blessing is offered to us when we treat others the way Jesus would treat them.
We are his representatives to the world.
This Sunday we will share another message in our series from 1 Peter, LIVING HOPE, titled “We’re on the Same Team” based on 1 Peter 3:8-12. Church people often forget that survival and success in overcoming the resistance and even persecution of the world depends on our unity and teamwork. We need each other and we must extend grace and love to one-another as we struggle to overcome Satan’s attacks. Join us on Facebook Live under the First Christian Church of Clovis Facebook page at 10:30AM MDT this Sunday.
Sharing the Practice of Grace,