Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Power of Forgiveness

“I heard Paul Yonggi Cho speak a few years back.  Yonggi Cho is pastor of the largest church in the world.  Several years ago, as his ministry was becoming international, he told God, “I will go anywhere to preach the gospel – except Japan.”  He hated the Japanese with gut-deep loathing because of what Japanese troops had done to the Korean people and to members of Yonggi Cho’s own family during World War II.  The Japanese were his Ninevites.

Through a combination of a prolonged inner struggle, several direct challenges from others, and finally an urgent and starkly worded invitation, Cho felt called by God to preach in Japan. . . He went, but he went with bitterness.  The first speaking engagement was to a pastor’s conference – a thousand Japanese pastors.  Cho stood up to speak, and what came out of his mouth was this: “I hate you.  I hate you.  I hate you.”  And then he broke and wept.  He was both brimming and desolate with hatred.

At first one, then two, then all thousand pastors stood up.  One by one they walked up to Yonggi Cho, knelt at his feet, and asked forgiveness for what they and their people had done to him and his people.  As this went on, God changed Yonggi Cho.  The Lord put a single message in his heart and mouth: “I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”

Sometimes God calls us to do what we least want to do in order to reveal our heart – to reveal what’s really in our heart.  How powerful is the blood of Christ, Reverend Cho?  What are the limits of forgiveness, anyhow?  How far does the gospel of peace, the ministry of reconciliation, reach?  Can it heal hatred between Koreans and Japanese?  Can it make a Jew love a Ninevite?  Can it make you be reconciled to . . . well, you know who?”

-- Mark Buchanan, Your God is Too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control

No comments: