Monday, February 8, 2010

Are We Really Any Different?

This is the story of two adorable eight-year-old boys. One lives in a large, ornate house with his parents, sister, & a host of servants while the other lives in a squalid hut with more people than will fit. One is privileged to at least three meals a day with a variety of foods to choose from, while the other is always hungry because of the scarcity of food. One dresses in a different clean & pressed outfit daily, while the other dresses in the same dirty, oversized, & thin rags every day. Both live in Germany, but one's father is a Nazi commandant, while the other's father was a Jewish watchmaker before they were imprisoned in the "work camp".

I am emotionally devastated after watching "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". Devastated because of the truth behind this fictional story. There was a time when some men were thought of as not really human - evil vermin worthy of eradication simply because they were Jews (you could insert "Native Americans" or "African" here as well). As I raged at this injustice, it struck me that things aren't really any different now. The evil that lurked in the hearts of the Nazis is no different from the evil that dwells in our hearts as well. Evil is evil, & because of the sin that is innate within us, we are all capable of heinous acts. It is only by God's grace that we are no longer debtors to our sin & have freedom in Christ. In the midst of my sobbing over the shared fate of these two boys, & the fate of millions of Jews in reality, I also wondered something. There were Nazis that were guilty of mass murder because they actually pulled the trigger, or administered the gas, or performed any number of other unspeakable crimes against their fellow man. But. . . what about the ones who stood by, fully cognizant of what was happening, but too afraid to take a stand against these evils - were they any less guilty?

Are we? All over the world right now, there are thousands of people dying every day. Thousands. Every. Single. Day. They're dying from starvation while we gorge ourselves at our dining tables or at fast-food restaurants. They're dying from diseases that could be prevented or treated while we have multiple pharmacies in practically every town & overflowing medicine cabinets. Children - both boys & girls - are being sold into slavery, some for labor, some for sex. And what do we do with this knowledge? Change the channel. Flip the newspaper page. Put such unpleasant thoughts out of our minds & focus on our own comfort.

So, are we really any different? We may not be killing people in gas chambers or firing squads, but are we any less guilty of their deaths if we turn a blind eye to their well-known plight? Now, before anyone gets their hackles up, please understand that I'm not drawing parallels between us & the Nazis. No, in fact, I'm comparing us to those Germans who just kept their heads down while millions were slaughtered. Truth be told, I actually find their silence more understandable than ours (although no less guilt-ridden), because their silence preserved their own lives & the lives of those they loved. We cannot say the same. No, our silence does nothing but preserve our own comfort & ease. We'd love to help, really we would, but surely we're not expected to go without cable or that nicer car or more clothes or a larger house or...the list goes on. There were people in Nazi Germany who risked everything to save some. They put their own lives & the lives of their loved ones on the line to hide or transport Jews away from the danger. They realized that more was at stake than their own comfort, & they stood in the gap to protect innocent people from annihilation. There are those today who are doing the same; people who are giving up everything, eschewing all modern comforts that this life affords us, even risking danger & death to be Christ's hands & feet. However, these people are rare, with the majority of us not doing nearly what we are capable of doing. Some of us are doing nothing at all. So I wonder: would we be so nonchalant about their deaths if they were our spouse? Our parent? Our child? Would that cable TV, nicer car, & bigger house be more important then? Aren't we, by our very indifference & inaction, proclaiming loudly that their lives are not as significant or worthy as ours? We can't claim not to know, because we do know. We can't say we don't see them, because we do see them. And because we know & see, if we choose to do nothing - or even just enough to assuage our consciences - we shouldn't be so foolish as to claim to be Christians. But don't take my word for that. Take God's.

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed & lacking in daily food, & one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed & filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 1:14-17

"Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil & his angels. For I was hungry & you gave me no food, I was thirsty & you gave me no drink, I was a stranger & you did not welcome me, naked & you did not clothe me, sick & in prison & you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, & did not minister to you?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:41-46

*Our most gracious heavenly Father, bring us to repentance for neglecting Your Word. Some of us have never had our eyes opened to the truths seen in these Scriptures; some of us have seen these truths, but have chosen not to heed them. Forgive us our sins. Please open our eyes to Your commands & soften our hearts to joyfully minister to those around us, both near & far, out of loving obedience to You. Help us to be ever-mindful that our works don't save us, but that they do show our profession of Christ to be true. Please remind us that we can't have true works apart from faith any more than we can have true faith apart from works. Sanctify us & strengthen our faith so that our love for You & for others will overflow into works that benefit others & glorify You. Equip us to be Your hands & feet to this dying world, forsaking our own comfort & ease in favor of sharing with them not only bread to feed their bodies, but the Bread of Life to save their souls. Help us to realize that these are not options, but commands that all true followers of Christ are to joyfully obey. Thank You for being our God, for leading us, disciplining us, forgiving us, & saving us. We love You. Please help us love You more. In Christ's holy name, Amen.


Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical.........................................

The Boyds said...

We're glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading & leaving a comment.