November 16, 2019
Scripture: Romans 5:8
But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
Thought for the Day: On this day in 1940, the Nazis closed off the Warsaw Ghetto from all outside contact. I’ve read a great deal of history, and watched plenty of History Specials on the Holocaust, but it remains impossible for me to imagine what it must have been like. Maybe it’s good that I cannot imagine, yet if I really take the time to reflect on what I have learned, I am horrified and ashamed at what the human species is capable of doing. Good people, a lot like you and I, put together a string of YES’s to a hateful ideology that did not necessarily need to become reality. Clearly there were historic and outside influences that helped to set the stage, but it required an amassing of blind affirmations to give it power. There were a handful of Christians who put Christ above the cancerous doctrine that Hitler proclaimed, and most of them died for it. Yes, they are martyrs for the faith. But why was it such a small community of Jesus followers who said, NO to the Nazi Party, while a majority of those who read the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule and the Parable of the Good Samaritan were somehow capable of justifying White Nationalism that resulted in the murder of millions of innocent lives? I would like to think we have evolved, and there are moments when the human species shows amazing compassion and generosity, but I remain fearful of what is possible. Reinhold Niebuhr left Germany before WWII and came to the United States. His vision of humanity’s goodness was crushed in the years that followed. He would later write, “Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.” We must be strong in our proclamation of the Gospel, and not some flimsy, feel-good, power-grabbing, get rich quick, blessings found in material objects kind of gospel even if someone has attached the name of Jesus to it. If we lose the Jesus of the cross – the Jesus who gave his life in love – to this nonsense, we can so easily become an instrument of that which is destructive, hateful and violent. I do not intend to depress anyone with my words today, but we must be vigilant in asking ourselves, “Are we following Jesus whose love embraced all of humanity or are we embracing an ideology that someone describes as Christ-like but does not resemble the Jesus of the Gospels?”
Prayer: Let every morning begin with a humble heart that seeks your ways of love, O Lord. And let every evening end with an honest confession for those times I did not live your love. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge