On the first Sunday of the New Year all the members of the mission churches came to the city church for a combined Communion service.
In those mission churches, which were located in the slums of the city, were some outstanding cases of conversions—thieves, burglars, and so on—but all knelt side by side at the Communion.
On one such occasion the pastor saw a former burglar kneeling beside a judge—the same judge who had sent him to jail where he had served seven years. After his release this burglar had been converted and become a Christian worker. Yet, as they knelt there, the judge and the former convict, neither one seemed to be aware of the other.
After the service, the judge was walking home with the pastor and said to the pastor, “Did you notice who was kneeling beside me at the Communion rail this morning?” The pastor replied, “Yes, but I didn’t know that you noticed.” The two walked along in silence for a few more moments, and then the judge said, “What a miracle of grace.” The pastor nodded in agreement. “Yes, what a marvelous miracle of grace.” Then the judge said “But to whom do you refer?” And the pastor said, “Why, to the conversion of that convict.” The judge said, “But I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself” The pastor, surprised, replied, “You were thinking of yourself? I don’t understand.”
“Yes,” the judge replied, “it did not cost that burglar much to get converted when he came out of jail. He had nothing but a history of crime behind him, and when he saw Jesus as his Savior he knew there was salvation and hope and joy for him. And he knew how much he needed that help.
But look at me. I was taught from earliest infancy to live as a gentleman; that my word was to be my bond; that I was to say my prayers, go to church, take Communion and so on. I went through Oxford, took my degrees, was called to the bar and eventually became a judge. Pastor, nothing but the grace of God could have caused me to admit that I was a sinner on a level with that burglar. It took much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-deception, to get me to admit that I was no better in the eyes of God than that convict that I had sent to prison.”
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.