“If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
The central message of the Christian gospel is reconciliation. The rift between men and God caused by our sin has been repaired by Jesus’ death on the cross. Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.
I keep coming back to this as I read books on leadership and biographies. I see the challenges in the men and families around me. Every business problem, every human problem, is merely a subset of the damage done by our original rebellion against God. The Christian message is good news because that rift is being healed by Jesus. If trouble is like a secured door, we have received the master key that turns every lock.
Sadly, it is easy to dismiss that message because many of us hear it frequently. Talk is easy. Philosophies are everywhere. That is why biographies are so refreshing–when you see the impact of the gospel in a person’s life, it hits home more. I have recently been reading World War II histories, particularly about three men in the Pacific Theater – Louis Zamporini, Jacob Deshazer and Mitsuo Fushida.
Louis Zamporini’s story was recorded by Laura Hillenbrand in the book Unbroken, and then made into a movie of the same title. It tells his incredible story of survival: first adrift on the ocean and then as a prisoner of war in completely vile conditions. Guards treated the men as less than human. Louis became a believer after the war at a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles. He returned to Japan to let those guards know that he forgave them—and even embraced them.
Jacob Deshazer vowed to get even with the Japanese when he heard of the bombing at Pearl Harbor. As one of Doolittle’s raiders, he sought revenge flying in one of 24 bombers that dropped bombs on Tokyo. Jacob’s plane ran out of fuel, crashed in China, and he and his crew were captured by the Japanese. He was interned in their POW camps. When things looked darkest, a donated Bible came into his hands. After reading it for three weeks, Jacob became a Christian. After his release at the end of the war, he was trained as a missionary at Seattle Pacific College and returned to preach forgiveness and hope to those who tortured him.
Mitsuo Fushida was the lead pilot for the Japanese in the bombing on Pearl Harbor. He survived that attack and several other remarkable situations. After the war, he read a tract written by Jacob Deshazer. He became a Christian and preached hope and forgiveness together with Jacob all over Japan. These two men, separated by war and hatred, became brothers and soldiers for Jesus.
All three of these men could have held on to bitterness and anger. They could have said there was no getting past the wrongs experienced in the war. But they did not. This is the power of the gospel. The Holy Spirit enables us to forgive our enemies. God does not just destroy his enemies—He makes them into friends. If you have been hurt deeply, it may seem impossible to forgive. Perhaps the hurts continue to mount. Do not despair. Take heart—things impossible with men are possible with God. I thank God for living examples who prove this supernatural truth again and again.