Have you heard of the city of Konigsberg?
Before Germany's defeat in the Second World War, there used to be a region of eastern Germany called Prussia. One of its chief cities was Konigsberg (present-day Kaliningrad in Russia).
In Konigsberg, back in the 1800's, there lived a family that was deeply divided over religion. The wife was a Christian; she worshipped every Sunday in the church pastored by the Rev. B.F. Jacobi. But the husband was never seen in church. He had no belief in Christianity; in fact, he was rather contemptuous of Christ.
This couple had one daughter, Annie, whom they loved very much. The husband had allowed his wife to raise Annie as a Christian.
But when she was ten years old, Annie became seriously ill. There was a virulent outbreak of measles in Konigsberg, and many children were struck down, including Annie. Medical skill in the 1800's was not adequate to deal with the disease. It was clear that Annie was dying.
But Annie was not afraid. She was looking forward to being in heaven with Christ. Her father, by contrast, was beside himself with grief and despair.
One day, as he sat by Annie's bed, consumed with sorrow, he heard Annie speak to him: “Father, when I go to heaven, and my Saviour asks me, ‘Why does your father hate Me so much?’ – what answer shall I give Him?”
The father was greatly troubled by Annie's question. He turned away from her. For a time, he would not look at her. But a life-and-death struggle was going on inside his mind.
At length, he turned back to his daughter, and said: “Tell Him that I love Him, Annie. I didn't love Him before, but I do now.” Annie was comforted, and shortly afterwards she died.
The father's words were not a pretence. From that moment, he joined with his wife in worshiping every Sunday in the Rev. Jacobi's church. Pastor Jacobi tells us that that the man's subsequent life proved the sincerity of his words to his dying daughter. He truly loved Christ now.
By nature, none of us love God. When the heart is converted to love Him, it has passed from spiritual death to spiritual life. Only Christ can do this for us. He did it for Annie's father. Has He done it for you?
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10).