Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Welcome home Mr President

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th Vice President of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965 to 1969.  When he died in 1978 hundreds of people from across the world attended his funeral. All were welcome, but one – former President Richard Nixon, who had not long dragged himself and his country through the humiliation and shame of Watergate. As eyes turned away and conversations ran dry around him Nixon could feel the ostracism being ladled out to him.

Then Jimmy Carter, the serving US President, walked into the room. Carter was from a different political party to Nixon and well known for his honesty and integrity. As he moved to his seat President Carter noticed Richard Nixon standing all alone. He immediately changed course, walked over to Richard Nixon, held out his hand, and smiling genuinely and broadly embraced Nixon and said “Welcome home, Mr President! Welcome home!”  

The incident was reported by Newsweek magazine:
“If there was a turning point in Nixon’s long ordeal in the wilderness, it was that moment and that gesture of love and compassion.” 

Jimmy Carter certainly knew that there is  little to gain from kicking a a person when he is down. After all, he is already down!  Creating a culture of civility of not kicking someone while he is down,  is to the benefit of everyone...we  never know when we are going to be the ones who are down.

This is not quite how it happens in everyday life, but the Bible teaches us to show kindness and forgiveness not only to our friends, but to our enemies too. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who hurt you.” That seems hard to do. When people hurt us, we sometimes want to hurt them back, but the Lord Jesus teaches us not to do that. He teaches us to be kind and loving, even to someone who is unkind to us. He teaches us to have mercy on others.

Why should we have mercy on people who hurt us? The reason is because God shows us mercy. We hurt God when we do things we know we should not do, but He still loves us even when we sin. The Bible tells us that when we sin, our punishment should rightly be death, but it also tells us that God sent His Son to die in our place. All we have to do to receive God’s mercy is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross to save us from the penalty, power and presence of sin.

Now that is amazing!  Even though we break God’s heart, He still loves and cares enough for us to sacrifice His only Son. God has a vast amount of mercy for us. He even went out of His way to meet us where we are. God’s mercy on us is a good lesson: Just as He forgives us, we should also forgive other people, even our enemies. Remember that God's Love is not cheap, for it goes against the ways of the world. God's Love is not cheap, but it is gratuitous. It is the giving of the gift that keeps on giving and multiplying itself. Most important is the assurance, the promise that His act of kindness and mercy can be ours today. His gesture of love to us when we did not deserve it can be ours if we only believe.

Used by permission of Messages with Meaning (12/05/22)

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