Stand Up And Be Counted
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land…but I found no one.”
Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV)
The two World Wars have been on the nation’s consciousness over the last year. 2014 marked 100 years since the beginning of World War 1 and 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the death camps at Auschwitz and the ending of the Second World War. In 4 short years the conflict of the First World War resulted in over 35 million deaths and just 20 years later another World War resulted in a further loss of an estimated 60 million lives.
The Holocaust was not just the ‘Final Solution’ for the Jews but for many other groups too. The Nazi’s compulsorily sterilised over 350,000 people and then undertook a systematic extermination of physically disabled and mentally ill adults and children, homosexuals and Jehovah Witnesses, among others. Their view was that only the pure, fit and strong should live while those who polluted, and were a drain on, society posed a genetic threat to the future of the German nation and so had to be eliminated.
In this context the poignant words of Rev Martin Niemoller, imprisoned in Dauchau concentration camp ring true:
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.
There were, of course, Christians actively involved all over Europe, living out their faith, many courageously helping Jewish people and others at risk. One of the most famous was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian, who courageously stood for truth and justice against the prevailing evil culture in Nazi Germany and was a founder of the ‘Confessing Church’.
Today in the United Kingdom we do not face the dire situations like those in Nazi occupied countries faced in the 1930s and 1940s, but there are issues over which Christians do need to stand up and be counted. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise; disabled people together with the frail and elderly are vulnerable and can often be marginalised; Christian values are being eroded; and the sanctity of human life (through assisted suicides, abortions, genetic modification of embryos and euthanasia) is being seriously challenged. Add to this the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world and we have many areas where we have to stand for truth and justice.
We all need God’s wisdom to be able to, and to know how to, courageously stand firm for right causes in a prevailing evil culture. As a first step, each of us can intercede in prayer over these issues. God is looking for people, you and me, to step into the gap on behalf of the land – Will he find anyone?
Father, help me to stand up and be counted in exercising my Christian responsibility to be concerned for this nation. May I never underestimate your power in response to my prayers and intercessions.
Study by Barry Robinson
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
LONDON SE5 7HN
Saturday 11 am
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