Varian Fry traveled to Marseilles, France, in late summer 1940, to rescue Jews from Nazi terrors. But not to think just any Jews were to be saved. No, just those the American Committee considered important enough to merit such a cost, “distinguished people”, musicians, historians, language experts, art critics, et al.
Would our scales weigh differently if choosing those in society worth preserving? Wouldn’t Doctors of Anything be preferable to High School graduates? Wouldn’t industry leaders be saved in lieu of their workers? Wouldn’t those in biological and earth sciences be considered absolutely first on the list of evacuees? Wouldn’t those in the Arts be next in line? And don’t forget the politicians! If a religious leader is needed, be sure to include a world-famous representative of a recognized world religion.
Yet, the ministry Jesus Christ makes liars of everyone and lies of every position we value. He spent significant blocks of time with Jewish leaders; he didn’t refuse to teach and help aristocrats; still, he felt a God-inspired affinity with the anonymous, the diseased, the crippled, the demon-possessed. All of these, and many more like them, whom society sidelined or banished, Jesus sought, touched, taught, loved and helped! Shouldn’t Christians be Christ-centered enough to follow his example, not that of a depraved culture?
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Cimon served as a late sixth to middle fifth century BC Athenian general and statesman. He proved as wise in peace as illustrious in war against Persia. In one campaign he took many captives and great plunder. He separated the prisoners of war from the pillage, then bade his allies take their choice. Naturally, they took the spoils and divided it among themselves, leaving Cimon with the naked prisoners.
Undaunted, he accepted his prize and cared for them. Later, when friends and kinsmen ransomed the POW’s, they paid such high prices that Cimon became an extremely wealthy man.
What value human life has! However important commodities are, however valuable gold and silver, however significant our natural resources, people are still our most important asset. The needs of people take precedence over all other duties, demands, and desires. Things can wait. People’s needs oftentimes can’t. Things can be replaced; but how do we give back a human life?
God is interested first in people, not in programs, buildings, or organizations. For people alone have immortal souls. Things can’t hurt the way people do. A hole in a suitcase may not mend, but the suitcase won’t know it has a hole. Put a hole in a man and he bleeds and may die. Things can’t feel pain of loneliness or the delight of companionship. People feel both.
Jesus always valued people; can church leaders value property or programs more? Jesus always attended human needs without pay; can church leaders pay personal attention to members only at budget time?
Today…everyday…remember that, whatever else matters, only people count. For everyone of us is specially made in the Image of God. That makes us distinct from all the other creations of God.
Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton—“Old Bullion” and Jessie Benton Fremont’s father—once said that the “tranquil masses” of people in the country would correct all the failures of “uneasy politicians.” Sandburg, War Years III, p. 25.
Perhaps true in a time when in the people a deep reservoir of Biblical values, morals, and perspectives existed. They could compensate for the folly of academics, politicians, and businessmen.
But to what can we look if the people themselves have lost those values? As is true in America today. One glaring example is the loss of Biblical norms in sexuality. Where God recognizes only heterosexuality in persons, and only heterosexual males marrying heterosexual females, 66% of Americans support gay marriage. In 1980 no public support existed for it. The rapid change in 25 years shocked pollsters.
Anyone familiar with American preaching in the past 25 years isn’t surprised. Since church growth leaders decided to eliminate “unnecessary obstacles” to people becoming Christians, they also eliminated “any” obstacle. They preach against nothing that might offend listeners. Don’t preach tithing; they have mortgages to pay. Or holiness to the Lord; self-denial is so difficult. Or Christ’s Singularity; no need to offend other religions.
It’s incredible that a people carried in the womb of Mosaic teaching, and born of the Spirit of God praising Jesus Christ, should now respect unbelievers so much we disgrace God Almighty and Jesus Christ. Bible-believing Christians, be faithful to Jesus. Remember Paul’s warning to the compromising Christians, I Corinthians 5:1-2, and the Risen Christ’s warning to the compromising churches in Asia, Revelation 2-3. No virtue exists in tolerance if tolerance accepts wickedness as normal.