Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 17, 2019
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16
I recently spent a morning touring the Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. I was shaken to my core as our creaturely capacity for evil was on full display, asking God to have mercy on us and show us our blindness to injustice and violence in our own day. As I turned a corner, a small and nondescript display in the corner of the room caught my eye. It told a story that struck me to my core and that I will never forget.
At this display I found a video recording of an elderly woman telling the story of being a Bulgarian Jew during World War II. She told the story of Nazi soldiers rounding her and hundreds of other Jewish children up, packing them into school yards and onto trains like sardines, ready to ship them off to the death camps. In this moment of unspeakable fear and confusion, a Bulgarian pastor, Metropolitan Kiril, forced his way past the guards, gathered the children around him, and said to them, “My children, my children. You will stay here. And if you don’t, I will go with you.” He then proceeded to prostrate himself before the train, refusing to let it pass. This act of courage sparked a fire that rallied the entire Bulgarian people, resulting in over 50,000 Jews being saved from deportation and certain death.
I wept as I saw such Christ like self-sacrifice on display. I also found myself compelled to ask hard questions of myself. How do I respond in the face of evil? Though you and I may never be faced with such extreme injustices, we still daily encounter brokenness that we can choose to ignore and keep at arms length, or enter into fully and sacrificially. How might our care for the neediest in our families and communities change if we didn’t have a way to opt out of their pain and loss? How might we work for their freedom and healing if we saw our own freedom and healing as bound up in their story?
It is one thing to offer aid or help to someone in need. It is another altogether to look at them and say, “I will go with you.” Yet as Christians, this is exactly what we are called to as it is nothing less than the love shown to us in Jesus our Lord. Jesus does not look upon the sin and evil of our world from a distance, hoping he can do something about it without it costing him anything. No, in the incarnation he enters into our chaos, takes it upon himself fully, even to the point of death, yet in rising declares victory and liberation from all that enslaves and holds us captive. May God give us the strength and courage to embody that self-giving love in our own day!
Father, thank you for the witness of faithful men and women through the ages who sacrificially gave their lives as a witness to the love we know and receive in Jesus. Amen.
Learn more about Bulgaria’s Jews by viewing the documentary The Optimists.
God’s love calls us to look at those in need and say, “I will go with you”. #WisdomHunters #notalone #Jesus
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