Friday, June 27, 2014

Sin Makes You Free

  In case you aren't familiar with the above slogan, allow me to translate it for you; work makes you free.  That sign  hung above the front gate of Auschwitz as well as a number of other German camps, and was often the first thing  the detainees would see as they were hustled through the gate.  That sign isn't there by accident; it was yet another part of a great violation perpetrated by a monstrous regiment. I am of the mindset that  this  particular sign is as evil, if not more evil than anything that  happened inside Auschwitz's gates.  Long before you were sorted into a 'live' or  'work to death' group , you saw this sign.  Long before your  belongings were  taken from you and  you saw your  wife and children for the last time, you saw this sign.  Long before you were  offered a shower, you saw this sign.  Long before you were tattooed with a number, you saw this sign.  That sign was there to keep you from panicking, to keep the crowd under control.  It was a calculated lie so at odds with  all other evidence that you didn't resist until it was too late.   Some camps, particularly Treblinka, were made to look like railway stations, complete with fake train schedules and  landscaping.

  People strolled casually along, and although there were armed guards and  vicious dogs and towers and barbed wire, the detainees assured themselves that  their concerns must be misplaced.   Surely no one would hang a sign up  promising freedom if all they offered me was slavery and death, would they?  Nazi guards even offered to hold the  teddy bears of small children while they took a 'shower'.   The effect was very successful that, according to survivor Olga Albogen.

"…We didn't even say goodbye to Mother and the little ones. We just had some food yet from home and I gave it to my mother and said, 'We'll see you tonight.' And that was it and I never saw them again. It was such a commotion there in Auschwitz… So many people… And when they emptied the wagons, thousands and thousands and trains kept on coming from all over Europe, not just Hungary. It was just unbelievable."
  The Nazi's make convenient villains,  in that their actions were so very horrific, but dastardly characters of exactly the same stripe still roam among us, and the tactic is still the same; come with us , and we'll make you free.  These villains show their face in  the advertisements for beer, wine and liquor.  The advertisements always show a group of smiling people having a blast. The men are all  handsome, the women all busty and friendly.The message is clear; these people are having fun, and our product got them there. Drink will make you free.
 These villains show their face in the plotlines of movies and television shows where adultery and fornication  or perversion are portrayed with great glamor. Basic animal urges are indulged with  reckless abandon, and no consequences.  The message is clear; indulging your flesh will make you free.
  These villains show their face in the  sitcoms where the  bumbling dad is rescued from his own ineptitude by his strong-willed wife or his smart-mouthed kids.Over and over again, they preach their gospel of  how the kids know best, or the wife knows best. The message is clear; the old ways are foolish.  Rebellion will make you free.
  Just as the villains of old  didn't mention the  gas chambers, or the mass graves, or the starvation, their modern day counterparts leave out quite a bit.  The liquor ad conveniently omits that  the fun party girl doesn't really look like that, and even if she did, their product will wreck her beauty in short order.  The  bartender doesn't mention the wino at the end of the bar who has been playing this game, and losing, long before you came along to try your luck at it.  If battered wives and shattered homes and broken vows are mentioned at all, they are  used as an example of someone who took it too far.  The poor sap  at the bar stool is reassured, in a hundred different ways, that the debris field of ruined lives is the exception not the rule.  Pay no attention to what's right there in front of your eyes, just remember that you're having fun, and having fun will make you free.
  The cinematic villains will never show you the hospital beds and broken hearts and seared consciences that the life they promoted has caused. If they do, they will do their best to ennoble  the AIDS patient or glamorize the unwed mother.The movie stars , by their wealth and celebrity are  often shielded from the  consequences of their actions, but you aren't.  You know this, if you  stop and look at what is  right in front of your eyes. But most people won't because after all, there's a sign up that says we can be free if we play their game.
  The sitcom villains will never show you the bitter wife who has struggled to be in charge then found it to be  an empty , unfulfilling thing.  They won't show you the estranged families that result from  rebellious children. They will white-wash over parents ashamed by their children, and children who are strangers to their parents. Whole generations can be destroyed this way. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, but they still claim it will make you free.
  In fact, the only place where you can get the truth about those signs is in an old black book that  sits patiently waiting at the heart of  human  experience. It sits there as a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, watching humanity  walk around it and pretend it's not there. It warns that "the wages of sin is death" and that "the soul that sinneth, it shall surely die".  It says, to whoever will  listen that  "he that commiteth sin is the servant of sin" It speaks of a day in which God will  "judge the world in righteousness". It tells you  to "flee from the wrath to come."
   Imagine a man standing at the gate to Auschwitz proclaiming,  "Look at the guard towers, look at the  dogs, look at the soldiers with guns. This is  not freedom, this is death!"  How many people would ignore him? How many people would look at the sign and say to themselves "Poor deluded fool. Can't he see the sign? Work makes us free."  How many people would argue with him, or mock him?  How many people would say to him "I agree with you, but this isn't the way to warn people. You have to be their friend first."  If you sincerely believe that  most people wouldn't just stroll on by into the gaping  maws of their awaiting captors, I submit to you that you  haven't spent much time spreading the gospel.  That is exactly the nature of the opposition and exactly  the nature of the  ministry.  We stand at the  gates of sin and  sorrow  proclaiming that there is another way; repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Humanity strolls by, some indifferent, some hostile but most of them  continuing on through the gates of death to the consequence-free liberty they have been promised. 
  It would make no sense to  build a building with comfortable seats and air-conditioning off to the side of the gate and invite people  going through the gate to stop by, if it wasn't too much trouble.  The urgency of the  hour demands that we  "lift up our voice" and "cry aloud",  The seriousness of  what's inside the gates demands that we  stand in the way, and  compel whoever we can, even as we know that they "hate him that rebuketh in the gate".  This is the gospel ministry. C.T. Studd said, "Some wish to live within  the sound of church and chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell!"

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