I was in a church service once, about 25 years ago now, when an old German man rose up from the congregation and asked if he could give a word of testimony. He began to speak and shortly thereafter he began to sob. He said that he had known, as so many others had known, that something sinister, something evil, something terribly and entirely inhumane was happening to the thousands and millions of Jews being rounded up into concentration camps throughout Nazi Germany. We didn’t have evidence, he said, but we knew what was happening nonetheless. We were the people who pressed the shirts of the SS officers and who delivered butter to the death camps.
And we did nothing.
We were afraid.
We knew if we spoke up we would attract the attention of the state police; we knew that if we expressed our disagreement with the policy we might find ourselves in prison, being tortured or simply disappeared. We knew that could happen and so we said nothing.
But now, all across Germany, he said, there is a sense of shame. A sense of guilt. A sense of sadness that nothing but Jesus can take away.
It was one of the most impactful services I’ve ever attended.
He wept and confessed and sought comfort in the mercy and grace of Christ. Jewish believers immediately stood up and surrounded the man offering forgiveness.
It was a powerful demonstration of the Gospel and simultaneously a powerful reminder of how painful it will be for people who are caught on the wrong side of history.
I suspect that we will see similar moments in church services all across this country in 20-30 years once the tide finally turns against the holocaust of legal abortion.
Men and women will stand up in services under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and ask if they can say a word. They will confess that they KNEW what was really going on. They KNEW what was being done to those little babies. They KNEW they could feel pain. They KNEW that they would have been viable outside the womb. They KNEW that there were families willing to adopt but they were AFRAID to speak out. They were AFRAID to take action. They were AFRAID to go against the overwhelming mood and momentum of the culture.
They were afraid that it would cost them at work.
They were afraid that it would cost them friends on Facebook.
They were afraid that they would be labeled as “anti-woman”, “anti-choice” or “pro-Trump”.
So they said nothing.
And millions upon millions of people died.
We’ll have those services one day and we will be reminded of the power of the Gospel. We’ll be reminded of the freeness of grace. We’ll be reminded of the marvel of mercy. And we’ll be reminded how painful it is to swim against the tide of contemporary opinion. And we’ll be reminded that all it takes for evil to triumph in this world is for good people – for God’s people – to stay silent.
When it happens next time, let’s try to a better job of learning that lesson. Let’s have the courage to be salt and light and to stand apart and if necessary outside of the cultural mainstream in order to be the people of God. The people of truth. The people of faith. The people unafraid to carry the cross.
For the sake of the little ones, O God, make it so in our day.
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes.