Even as a kid, whenever I would learn about the horrific events of the Holocaust I always wondered, “How could this happen? How did the German people allow this to happen?” Six million Jews and five million others the Fuehrer deemed to be enemies or undesirables were targeted for systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder.
I thought, like most people probably would, “I would have stood up. I would have done something to stop this.” There’s little risk in looking back and imagining ourselves as standing on the right side of history, of course. Converting that idealism into present-day action, however, is often more complicated.
For example, the Confessing Church, a small minority who rallied together to oppose Nazi interference in church doctrine and leadership, was limited in it’s resistance to the Nazis. The movement’s courageous Barmen Declaration focused on the core matter of protecting the identity of the church rather than voicing opposition to the Nazi regime or the persecution of the Jews. Church leaders paid a price for even this intentionally focused and restrained form of resistance. Martin Niemöller, Heinrich Grüber, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were all sent to concentration camps. Niemöller and Grüber survived, Bonhoeffer did not. These Christians stood as best they could, in their own way as they believed God was directing them at that time.
What does it look like to “stand” in our day? Taking a stand requires three vital commitments: Resolve, Ready, Resist.
Resolve. We must first decide to stand in the first place. Recent political scandals and abuses of authority have increased the expectation that things could begin to rapidly worsen for conservatives, libertarians, traditionalists, Christians, and other people of faith in America. We now know that President Obama’s IRS intentionally targets conservative, Christian, and Jewish individuals and groups for harassment and intimidation.
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