Unfair Grace

 
Overview/Background
The goal of this communion message is to challenge the belief system of the listener. We find out about a mass-murdering cannibal whose deathbed conversion seems genuinely unfair. How could God possibly let him into heaven? That exact question may reveal more about you than you think!
 
1 Timothy 1:15-16
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 

Introduction
In his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”, Philip Yancey raises the matter of Jeffrey Dahmer’s conversion. Dahmer, the homosexual mass murderer, abused and murdered 17 young men. He cannibalized them and stored body parts in his refrigerator. Eleven corpses were found in his apartment. He was the epitome of the word vile. During his trial he sat serenely in court, showing no signs of remorse. In November of 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death in prison by a fellow prisoner. Television news reports included interviews with relatives of Dahmer’s victims. They said their only regret about his killing was that it had ended his life too soon. They wanted him to suffer more.
 
Yancey writes, “One network showed a program taped a few weeks before Dahmer’s murder. The interviewer asked him how he could possibly commit the crimes he was convicted of. Dahmer said that these things happened before he believed in God, when he wasn’t accountable to anybody. He said it all began with petty crimes and small acts of cruelty, and he just kept going, further and further. Nothing restrained him. Dahmer then told of his recent religious conversion. He was baptized in the prison whirlpool and spent all of his time now reading his Bible and Christian literature.”

The prison chaplain affirmed Dahmer’s conversion, saying that his repentance was sincere and that he was one of his most faithful worshipers.  

What about justice!  

What goes on inside you when you hear these things? Does it seem unfair? Something about it just doesn’t seem right. In once sense, I am very happy for Jeffrey. He grew up a member of the Church of Christ and requested to be re-baptized for the forgiveness of sins in prison, a short time before he was killed. When I first heard the story, I was sceptical, thinking it was simply a death-bed prayer anyway. But after further study, it became clear that his conversion was likely honest, forthright and biblically accurate. That sort of forced me to face how I really feel about what happened. 
 
There are the obvious questions, “What about all the people he killed? What about their lives? What about their families? What about justice!!!? The implications are far reaching: If Dahmer could be in heaven, then anyone could make it to heaven. He had no respect for God, for the value of a life, for family, for morals. He lived out the atheistic stance in its ultimate, inevitable conclusion – if there is no God, then there is no right or wrong, and therefore nothing is morally wrong.
 
Nietsche believed it, but Dahmer lived it out. 
 
So, how in the world could he possibly be in heaven? Then comes the next question: How could he be in heaven when there are so many good people out there who aren’t followers of Christ.  
 
Are you saying that Dahmer is in heaven, but many of those good people aren’t!? 
 
I see this question as one of the deepest issues in our fellowship of churches. Deep in our hearts, we want to base salvation on how “good” we are. We find any other type of salvation as unfair, unrighteous and almost ungodly. Reality is that if you view this as ungodly, then maybe your view of God is off-base.
 
God and Murderers
The strange thing is that God loves to work through murderers. Paul considered himself guilty of the death of Stephen. Peter came within inches of killing Malchus. If not for Malchus’ quickly ducking to the side, he would have lost more than an ear. And what of Moses, the Old Testament messianic figure of salvation? He didn’t just attend or attempt a murder. He committed one. Yet these three figures are arguably some of the most important figures in the history of God’s working on our planet. Why? Because God is very different. He is literally out of the box! 
 
So what does all this say about your belief system? Are you saved by the grace of God alone? Or do you work hard to maintain that saved state?
 
Hard work has its value…and it can be the expression of gratitude.
 
But the danger in hard work is that we become enamored with it. We become dependent on it. We need it. It keeps us saved…or so we feel at times.
 
Are we any different?
In Lucado’s book, “In the Grip of Grace”, he remarks, “A condemned criminal was sent to his death by his country. In his final moments, he asked for mercy. Had he asked for mercy from the people, it would have been denied. Had he asked it of the victims, they would have turned a deaf ear. but it wasn’t to these he turned for grace. He turned instead to the bloodied form of the One who hung on the cross next to his and pleaded, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And Jesus answered by saying, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’ (Luke 23:43)  As far as we know, Jeffrey Dahmer did the same thing. And as far as we know, Jeffrey Dahmer got the same response. And when you think about it, the request Dahmer made is no different than yours or mine. He may make it from a prison bunk and you may make it from a church pew, but from heaven’s angle we’re all asking for the moon.”     
 
Upward Call
So as we take the bread and wine right now, let’s examine our own belief system and compare (or contrast) it with Jesus’ unfair justice displayed to the criminal on the cross.  
1) What is it in you that makes it difficult to accept a Dahmer in heaven?
2) What is it in you that makes it difficult to accept that your salvation has nothing to do with your hard work?
3) What is it in you that makes it difficult to simply depend 100% on the sacrifice of Christ as the only basis of your salvation?
 
Prayer for Bread and Wine
 
Reference
To find out more about Dahmer’s background and conversion, simply google it or
click here.
 

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