If you’ve missed the national news lately, go catch up on the “Miracle in Cleveland.”
A Cleveland, Ohio man was eating supper when he heard screaming and went to investigate. He discovered a young woman trying to escape from a barricaded home. As he helped her get out, she said she was Amanda Berry, well-known in Cleveland as a young woman abducted as a teenager a decade ago. What followed is the stuff of Hollywood epics. The man called 9-1-1, then police arrived to rescue two more women from the home.Cleveland’s newspaper has extensive print and video coverage. Type in Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight into any search engine, and a laundry list of topics will appear.
Conversation around Northeast Ohio has centered around the amazing rescue of these three women, who were held against their will. Wherever people gathered, someone would eventually say, “Did you hear…?”
There has been a celebratory feel to today. People are genuinely happy these three young women are safe. They were medically cleared by physicians at a local hospital, and tonight – for the first time in a decade or more – they are with family.
It is by God’s grace that they are free tonight.
This story is also a great example of how we should rejoice when a brother or sister is rescued from sin and steps into freedom as a child of God.
All mankind is shackled by the chains of sin. We seek escape, yet are always confined. The sinful world surrounds us, constrains us and seeks to mold us into what it desires. Our bondage is all-encompassing, and though there may be others who also seek freedom, they too are trapped by chains that do not break. Until, one day, God draws near.
The Holy Spirit quickens our hearts to understand that we cannot escape the shackles of sin ourselves. We find that the only way of escape is to call out to a Savior. We learn that a perfect and loving Christ died for our sins on a cross, then rose again after three days to prove that He had beaten death, and paid the price for the sins of every man and woman. All He asks is that we accept Him and what He has done.
And, just like that, without having to do anything other than believe, we are rescued. The chains holding us are broken, and we are free. We are free to see that Christ is not merely a rescuer, but truly worthy of our worship as Lord and Savior. We are able to walk out of our bondage. We suddenly go from prisoners of sin to adopted brothers and sisters of Christ. We suddenly find that not only do we have a new future, but we have a new family. Everyone who claims the name of Christ as “Lord,” is now a blood-bought relation.
And we are loved, like we have never been loved before.
The celebration that has taken place in Cleveland has been amazing. People have been in the streets celebrating, bringing flowers and balloons and reveling in the rescue of these three women.
Why don’t we celebrate the salvation of a lost sinner in the same way – with celebrations in the streets – balloons and a party like no other?
How amazing a statement when a pastor stands before his congregation and says “Brother s0-and-so comes to say that he has accepted Christ as his Savior.” I’ve been in some churches where the amount of celebratory praise is based on how close the pastor is cutting it to noon.
Jesus gives us great examples in His Luke 15 parables of the celebrations that should take place when a sinner is saved – Heaven rejoices and there is joy among the angels. Why don’t we have that kind of celebration?
Have we become so blasé about being a Christian, that we have lost sight of what a miracle salvation truly is?
Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 of how we should act as Christians. Maybe it’s time we got back to some good, old-fashioned rejoicing.
Tonight, Cleveland celebrates the return of some of its lost girls. Remember that, next time you hear of a new brother or sister in Christ. Their chains are gone, and they’ve been set free – now that is worthy of rejoicing. It truly is a Miracle.