Sunday, July 1, 2007

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

There's really just one great decision in life, and it must be made over and over again. That decision is the decision whether to take the road that is easiest, the road that seems the safest and most comfortable, or to take the right road. It's not that the safe and easy road is always the wrong one. No; sometimes it's easiest on us and safer too to do the right thing, but often it seems that doing the right thing is uncomfortable and dangerous. Sometimes it's even fatal. It's the best of both worlds when what is safe and easy and what is right coincide, but far too often, they are radically opposed.

For those brave souls like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, and Raoul Wallenberg who stood against the evils of the Nazi regime, the safe and easy decision would have been to say, like Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and sit idly and apathetically by while millions went to their deaths. No; they chose to heed Jesus' words and say, "Yes, of course; I am my brother's keeper!" and fight the dark madness of the Holocaust.

Theirs was a difficult decision, for to speak out against injustice or to help, to rescue or shelter those the Nazis had targeted for extinction was to share in their awful fate. The courageous pastor-theologian Bonhoeffer died at the end of a hangman's noose for helping Jews escape, participating in a failed coup against Hitler, and boldly defending the Gospel of Christ while few in Germany would. The Dutch resister, Corrie Ten Boom, lost her father and endured the hells of Ravensbruck for loving her Jewish neighbors as herself by hiding them in her home. For imitating Jesus by leaving his luxurious life in Sweden to go to Nazi-occupied Hungary and help rescue 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death, the diplomat Wallenberg found himself in a war zone as the Red Army approached. A victim of Soviet paranoia about Western spies, he purportedly died in a Soviet prison two years after the war.

This was indeed The Cost of Discipleship for these three heroes of the Second World War. What about those heroes of the faith from Scripture who chose what was right instead of that which was comfortable, easy, and safe? Consider Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Caleb, the prophets, Mary and Joseph, the 12 Apostles, and Paul. All of these great players in salvation history sacrificed their ease, safety, and comfort, and some even sacrificed their lives, to do what God called them to do. Didn't Jesus suffer all this and more to do the will of the Father?

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