95 Theses Friday #4: Righteous Among the Nations

The thing about doing doing what I’m doing with 95 Theses Friday is that it is essentially negative.  Finding flaws, offering criticism, looking for error.  This is not a bad thing, for only thus can what is wrong be set right.  A broken tool will not be fixed until its state is recognized.

However, we are now at the start of the road that leads to Easter, that holiest of days, Spring is at hand in Texas, and in this past week I’ve seen prayers answered in what I would have to describe as a mighty way, so I don’t really feel like being negative.

Let us, instead, consider a positive example.  We do have a few to look towards.  Let us think on Corrie Ten Boom.

When Hitler’s madness was ascendant, when the Nazis had spread like plague across Europe and Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other undesirables were being harvested for the ovens, one of the many who risked their lives to oppose the tide was a little old maid from Harlem.  Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their father Casper were watchmakers (indeed, Corrie was the first licensed female watchmaker in the Netherlands), and very devout Christians.  When the Nazis began requiring all Jews to wear the yellow Star of David, Casper Ten Boom insisted on wearing one as well.  And in 1942, when a Jewish woman arrived on their doorstep looking for sanctuary, he told her that in his household, God’s people were always welcome.

For two years, their house sheltered refugees, Jews and resistance fighters.  To protect others, they gambled their own lives, filling their house with the displaced enemies of the Reich and taking great risks to feed them.  They usually housed seven at a time, and helped create a network of other safehouses.  When the Gestapo finally came for them in February of 1944, they managed to conceal four Jews and two members of the underground.

In all, they saved perhaps eight hundred lives, perhaps more.

Their reward was imprisonment.  Casper Ten Boom died after ten days in Scheveningen. His daughters ended up in Ravensbruck. Betsie died in that evil place, but her sister lived to see the Third Reich crumple into dust.

At fifty-three years of age, having lost most of her family to the cruelty of the Nazis and having just herself emerged from a concentration camp, Corrie Ten Boom began her life’s work: preaching a message of love, hope, and above all forgiveness.  She traveled the world delivering this Gospel.  She did so with actions, not just words.  In 1947, she was reunited with one of the crueller guards from Ravensbruck, and in an open-hearted miracle I can’t even imagine duplicating, clasped his hands and forgave him his sins towards her.

This is what the true Gospel is.  Perfect faith in God, perfect love for your fellow men.  To do right regardless of consequence, to aid the downtrodden, to endure unflinching the hardships of the world, and to forgive those who have wronged you.  It is when we lose sight of these core principles that we go astray.

We who are rich, let us remember the Gospel of the poor and the hungry.  We who are free, let us remember the Gospel of the slave and the prisoner.  We who are proud, let us remember the Gospel of the humble and the broken.  We who are strong, let us remember the Gospel of the weak and the sick.


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