The BTK killer has been sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences. After terrorizing people in Wichita and the state of Kansas for decades, he has finally been put away.
One reporter called Dennis Rader a “non-descript” man, an average, balding man with glasses, involved in his denomination and in the Boy Scouts. Anybody’s next-door neighbor.
Yet he committed heinous crimes, cruelly stalking and torturing people before killing them.
And, before his capture, he had his next victim in sight, say prosecutors.
Family members of Rader’s victims called him all sorts of names. A demon. An animal. A monster. Anything but human.
With anguish and tears they happily consigned him to hell.
I do not wish to diminish the horror of his crimes. I dare not take lightly the grief of those deprived of loved ones through such brutality.
But the BTK killer could be any one of us.
Dennis Rader is fully human. He exercised his humanity by making choices. From Adam and Eve, Cain, Korah, Balaam, and Uzzah, to Anas, Ananias and Sapphira, Hymenaeus and Alexander, and Elymas he is “merely” another in a long line of human beings who pursued passions and perversions to their ultimate end.
And you and I are a part of that train of sinners who took transgression and made it our master, gave it full rein to wreak havoc, wreck lives, and destroy our only chance of knowing the true and living God.
Dennis Rader is a despicable man, in every sense of the word.
And we owe him our thanks.
For he shows us the real face of sin and the real value of grace.
The real face of sin cries crocodile tears of remorse, but not repentance.
The real face of sin asks for forgiveness in broken language, but not with a broken heart.
The real face of sin fidgets at the table in the courtroom, while wishing he were out on the street after his next victim.
The real face of sin puts on airs of normality while the world watches the revelations of his grim crimes.
The real face of sin plots and schemes and lies and covers up and drags his crimes through neighborhoods and churches.
“… your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2, ESV).
The real value of grace gathers all the horrible evidence, hears all the heart-rending testimony, and still loves the creature, in spite of what he has become.
The real value of grace holds out hope, offers pardon, transforms a monster into a man of God.
The real value of grace tallies sin not only in terms of crimes against one’s fellow man, but the travesty of rejection of heaven’s fellowship.
The real value of grace tears away the habits of hatred and replaces them with strength to submit fully to the will of God.
“… this is the true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12).
Yes, we feel relief that justice has been done and that the BTK killer has been imprisoned for life.
Even more, this moment recalls the mercy of God who has consigned the heinous sins of those who obey Jesus to the depths of the sea and has restored sanity to our souls, and our souls to his presence.
Sin is sin is sin is sin; the BTK Killer could be any one of us.
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