A Christmas Carol
From Johann Arnold . . .
“In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the bitter old accountant Scrooge provides a memorable illustration . . .
Having closed himself to human kindness, he lives in a universe so calculating and cold that no one escapes his suspicion. Before long he begins to despise himself and look for a way out of his misery. But he cannot find one.
He is trapped — trapped in the prison of self. Worse, he is haunted by dreams of death, and dreads its approach . . .
Then he changes . . .
(Dickens writes) 'The time before him was his own, to make amends in!'
No longer consumed with his own needs, he is free to love . . .
And as he runs from one old acquaintance to the next, he rediscovers the world around him with the unselfconscious happiness of a child . . .
Such happiness can be ours, too, if we live for love. By 'love' I am not simply speaking of emotion, nor of some abstract ideal, but of the life-changing power Jesus speaks of.”
As I read this excerpt I am struck by Dickens’ words: “The time before him was his own, to make amends in!”
Make amends — it’s not a phrase we often hear or use these days unless you’ve been in some sort of recovery program. But it is a principle for godly living to be willing to make amends with people whenever possible.
There’s often a place in our hearts where we still hang on to old offenses or old interactions with people whose names we may not even know — clerks in stores, tellers at the bank, people in traffic, etc. It’s easy for us to see people as obstacles in our way and not as opportunities for us to love.
But there are also people in our lives that we do know, and we know them well, and we have been hurt by them or we have hurt them in some way. We believe that Jesus came in part to “set the captives free” — free to love without fear. He commands us to be reconciled with one another (Mark 5:23-24).
Take The First Step
Ask God for the courage to take the first step toward reconciliation with someone in your life. And ask Him to help us see people as He does — not as obstacles in our way but as opportunities for us to love.
Johann Christoph Arnold was a pastor, an elder in the Bruderhof (an Anabaptist community), a veteran of the fight for peace and reconciliation through forgiveness, a warrior in the struggle to live the gospel and love his neighbor.