Those who do not want to get involved are a part of the problem:
We all know of various media reports that now and then speak about some crime happening – eg., someone being assaulted – and other people are aware of it. While crowds may observe the assault, no one wants to get involved. They are happy to stand around and watch, or just walk on by.
For whatever reason (cowardice, fear, indifference) they refuse to lift a finger for the victim. They just think it is not something they should get involved in. And the crime may already have occurred, as in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and many will still walk right by, refusing to lift a finger, refusing to help out.
Some of you might know where I am heading with this article. My main concern is to get Christians involved in the important issues of the day. This is not limited to the so-called culture wars, but would include them. Sadly too few believers are ever involved in any meaningful way. I have written often about this matter, including this piece from five years ago. In it I said this:
There would likely be many reasons why most Christians seem to do nothing about these really important issues of the day. Here is my take on this. Of course I am not a social scientist, I do not have a team of paid professionals to assist me here, and I make no claims to any sort of empirical certitude. But from my vantage point, I think the breakdown would go something like this. If we had 100 Western Christians:
-something like 85 would not know or care about any of this stuff;
-of the 15 who did care, perhaps half of them might at least pray about some of these matters;
-of the 15 who did care, maybe just 1 or 2 will actually do something about it.
Now that is as unscientific as you can get. It is simply based on my own experiences over many years. The actual figures could well be a bit off, but the exact numbers are not so important here. What is important is this general truth: most Christians in the West really do not seem to give a rip about what is going on around them. billmuehlenberg.com/2017/07/22/christian-concern-missing-action/
As Jesus made clear in his above-mentioned parable, true faith entails getting involved. Meeting people and their actual needs is part of how we live out our Christianity. It may not mean helping every mugging victim we might come upon, but it does mean at least caring a bit to start with.
James made this practical side of the faith pretty obvious when he wrote the following (James 2:15-16): “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”
I admit to a somewhat personal reason for penning a piece like this. The truth is, it can often get pretty intense on the front lines, and I often wish there were some others joining with me in the battles. It not only can get lonely out there, but you are more likely to sustain injuries when so few others come to your aid. Strength in numbers has its place.
The other night I actually had a dream about this. While I do not put much stock in dreams as such, it seems it might be of some relevance here. The gist of it was this: I and two others were with some really bad guy. I knew he had to be restrained somehow so he would not do more harm.
So I grabbed him from behind and tried to hold him down. At the same time I was pleading with the other two to help me, as I could not do this on my own for much longer. They did not want to get involved. Then some gal came along and noticed that I was bloodied as a result of this, and she urged me to let him go and save myself.
But hers was the wrong response as well. I did not want to get out of there, I wanted to see this evil person somehow stopped, and I desperately needed the help of these others. But they seemed to think the best course of action was to just leave it alone and go.
I think you get the moral of this story (dream). Sure, if we stay away from conflict we will not get injured, but things will only get worse for everyone in the long run if we do not take a stand against evil. And we need each other in these battles. It is often too hard and too futile to try to win these fights all by ourselves.
Those engaged in the various cultural and spiritual battles of the day would know what I am speaking about here. We desperately need some more feet on the ground. We need some soldiers in the battlefronts. We need some brave believers to roll up their sleeves and get involved.
Let me mention an exchange that just occurred on the social media. Last night I posted a quote by David Wilkerson that said this: “God uses people. God uses people to perform His work. He does not send angels. Angels weep over it, but God does not use angels to accomplish His purposes. He uses burdened broken-hearted weeping men and women.”
A gal came along and replied: “I think God has a history of sending angels to help when needed.” To which I answered: “Sure, but his point of course is that in the main, God uses people – you and me – and if we do not get involved, then the job usually will not get done. For example, God did not tell the angels to evangelise the world – he told you and me to do it!”
Learning from history
While the horrors of last century with life under Communism or the Nazis was of course in a whole different league to any suffering and hardship we might experience as we get involved in the battles of the day, they are worth reminding ourselves of.
Just as most folks do not want to get involved today in some of these crucial battles, many folks back then were the same when it came to totalitarianism crushing everything in its path. A brave minority DID get involved, with so many losing their lives as a result, or being horribly abused and mistreated in prisons and concentration camps.
I am just reading now about some of the courageous resistance fighters in France last century – many of them women. Their heroism in the face of Nazi brutality and barbarism is simply amazing to read about. I will be writing more articles in the near future about these brave resistance fighters.
But some of these champions I have discussed before, including the young Scholls who were key resistance figures in Germany, using pamphlets and other means to resist the Nazi machine. They were caught and killed for their involvement. Consider what Sophie Scholl had to say:
The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves – or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.
Or as her brother Hans Scholl said: “It’s high time that Christians made up their minds to do something . . . What are we going to show in the way of resistance… when all this terror is over? We will be standing empty-handed. We will have no answer when we are asked: What did you do about it?”
Remember that Sophie was just 21 and Hans 24 when they were beheaded by the Nazis on February 22, 1943. Talk about getting involved, even at great cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer also was involved in resisting the evils of Nazism. He was arrested and executed for taking part in a plot to kill Hitler. This is what he had to say:
“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.” He also said that the church must not simply “bandage the victims under the wheel, but jam the spoke in the wheel itself.”
Yet most Germans did not want to get involved. As the American writer Naomi Shulman said: “Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics.’ They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”
And more recent examples of those who got involved in the battles of the day can be mentioned here. Just a few quotes from one clear example, Martin Luther King Jr.:
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
Lastly, one quote I have often used that serves as a good summary of this piece. In a 2014 article titled “A Time for Heroism,” Melissa Moschella said this:
Perhaps there are times and places in the history of the world in which it is possible to go through life as just an ordinary, good person—a faithful spouse, a loving parent, a concerned citizen, a regular church-goer, an honest and industrious professional—leading a normal, quiet life, not making waves or standing out in any way. Perhaps. But the United States of America in the year 2014 is not one of those times and places. Rather, in our contemporary society, the only way to be good is to be heroic. Failing to act with heroism inevitably makes us complicit in grave evils.
So, what is your excuse for not getting involved?