I am reading through Genesis, the book that begins God’s message to us. It is a quirky book that poses more questions than answers. For example, the whole thing about Abram taking his nephew Lot with him when he journeys from Haran to Canaan… They don’t seem to get along very well. In fact, Abram tells God, during one of God’s visits with him, that he doesn’t have anyone to leave his estate to–not exactly a picture of family harmony. And Lot, well, he is a case. He parks his tent right beside Sodom in one chapter and in the next, he is living inside it. He goes from camping on the periphery to living in the middle of it. And things do not go well for him there…
I keep thinking about this business of camping outside the town. What does that translate into in our day? Maybe it is what we listen to. Where to we get our information? What do we read? Where do we worship? Wherever we “camp,” and spend our time, we soon begin to reflect those values. Before long we have moved into the city and find ourselves repeating what we see and hear around us. If we are always with like-minded people and don’t challenge ourselves, ask questions, analyze where we are and what we hear, and talk to God regularly, then before long we are lulled into moving right in with the people surrounding our “camp.”
My mission today is to ask more questions about where I am camping. Who am I listening to? Do I have my heart in the right place? Am I full of anger and hate or love? And yet, love is not a fuzzy feeling, it is an action verb. It is not passive but active. It involves stepping out, speaking up and refusing to stand down when others are being oppressed.
My prayer today is that I will love God more than any country; that I will love people more than any ideals; that I will treasure those who are different from me in color, religion, and creed. And that I will stand up for all those I love. Everyone.
MARTIN NIEMÖLLER: “FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE SOCIALISTS…”
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.