How then should we respond? by Milton Gillie, Reachmorenow correspondent in Australia
In the aftermath of the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran there have been many different reactions. These have ranged from calls to boycott Indonesia as a holiday destination or other forms of revenge to “They knew the risk and they got what they deserved.” Now that it is over the unity of voices has splintered. While our government ministers who did everything possible short of starting a war over the issue have maintained a dignified calm stance, more left wing politicians have made statements of recrimination including turning on our Federal police who originally tipped off the Indonesian police.
It is very easy to feel emotions of revenge on those who, from most people’s point of view, were heartless and unjust in carrying out the executions. I found myself entertaining some of those emotions myself. But as I thought on further I realized that if we in anyway seek revenge we are as guilty as the servant who having been forgiven a great debt failed to forgive another (Matthew 18:23-35). Grace says pray for the blessing and prosperity of even those who have done wrong to others. That is not to say the law should not be applied to those breaking it, but we must remember the “Vengeance is mine says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
The other issue with taking revenge on the country by boycott is that it doesn’t actually affect those responsible. The government ministers and officials responsible for not granting clemency are not affected by such action whereas small business owners and workers are badly affected. After the 2002 Bali bombings, many business and workers were badly affected by the loss of tourism that followed. These people are the lowest paid living from pay-packet to pay-packet. The well paid politicians and public servants are immune from this. If such action were to occur the politicians would tell the people it is Australia’s fault and the result would be the reverse of what was intended.
Although I never met either man, I found myself identifying with them as they ministered Christ in the jail. After all every single one of us that have come to faith in Christ understands that we are all sinners forgiven for all our failures, some of us far worse than the crimes of these two and some of us mild in comparison. The Apostle Paul, writer of much of the New Testament, understood far better than anyone else just how great the forgiveness is that we have all received. But more important, how a life can be transformed by the power of the gospel.
The most remarkable thing about the whole story was the exposure on national TV and other media of how their lives were lived for others after their jailhouse conversion. They have both said it was only because they were caught that their lives turned around. Story after story told of how Andrew was the pastor to other inmates and even guards in the prison or how Myuran taught other prisoners to paint, and how they helped others be ready to function in society upon their release. The transformation came not from anything run by the authorities but mission work run by churches that brought the amazing grace of God into their lives. They left this world having first sung Amazing Grace were then singing Bless The Lord Oh My Soul as they died. I cannot think of any other people in our country whose Christian witness was broadcast so widely and for so long on our national news.
The response as a Christian then is not one of reprisal, but one of being inspired by the witness they left behind. The reality is that the same spirit lives in each one of us who name Jesus as our Savior. Each one off us can live our lives totally sold out the same way. The key to this is not that we make a determination to self-sacrifice to extreme levels from our own ability, but to realize that Jesus sacrificed all for us in order that we may be free to live out our lives far beyond what we could do naturally. Each one of us can be the inspiration that the lost needs or the encouragement that our fellow believers need. But we can’t fake it. It has to be part of who we naturally are. Someone termed it “being naturally supernatural”.
Several months ago I was chatting with my pastor, Darlene, as she neared the end of her cancer treatment. She gave me an illustration of this attitude. She chose to go through her journey in a very transparent way with our church. She shared her struggles, but also how she encouraged herself and chose the truth and promises of Scripture on days when she felt so sick she couldn’t get out of bed. I said to her “You have been such an inspiration to us”. She replied “I wasn’t trying to be an inspiration, just doing what I needed to survive”. It made me think about how I respond to adversity.
What was it that inspired so many about the lives of Andrew and Myuran in the prison? It was simply that having found peace with God they lived out the natural result of that. A result that had them ask in the last hours before their executions that people not seek retribution. Who knows what the end result of their lives will be? I am sure that books and movies will be made in the future. There is already a stage show about the Bali 9. The show was quite successful and the authors decided after its second run to go to Bali to meet them. In an interview on national TV the interviewer described that the news crew were completely surprised when they met Andrew and Myuran. They expected to meet gangster type people and instead met two young men of the highest quality. The gospel had taken them from being dead in their trespasses and sins to alive in Christ. That is what the world needs. We who have received this same grace and we need to show it through our lives and our words.