David Gushee, in his book “The Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust,” seeks to explain why some European citizens stepped forward to become rescuers of Jews being hounded by their Nazi persecutors and others did nothing, or actually informed on them. One of the common denominators he found among those willing to endanger their own lives to rescue Jews being sought by authorities was a thing called “group influence.” As he put it, “some rescuers reported that they saved Jews because of the moral example or exhortation of a group that was important to them. Such groups included family, friends, church groups, etc. Everyone knows that we are profoundly influenced in our decisions by those whose opinions matter to us.”
This made me ask the inevitable question, “If this whole issue had been lived out in the present day, and our country was occupied by Nazi invaders, would Cactus Christian Fellowship be a force so strong that its people would immediately recognize the issues involved and reach out to help, endangering their lives to protect the oppressed? Or, would our influence be so minimal and the ethic we stand for be so shallow that each person would seek to do only what most of the Christians of Europe did—avoid the uncomfortable and dangerous at any cost.”
This is not a hypothetical question. Actually, it is being asked and answered every day. We don’t have to wait for some great showdown between good and evil to see how we would respond. As Jesus put it, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). How are you handling the little ethical battles that rage around you each day? Do you find yourself justifying your conduct by quoting favorite phrases of the Enemy like “It’s no big deal,” or “Everybody’s doing it”? Or does the Spirit of God within you constantly send up the red flags of ethical warning that you are walking on dangerous ground?
Those of us who have pledged that Jesus Christ is our Lord must live in accordance with His teaching and conform our lives to His will and example. This is what it means to call Him Lord and to be His disciples. And it isn’t just for ourselves we need to do this. We are leaving behind us a legacy for our children and others to follow. Depending upon our conduct will it be a legacy of spiritual compromise and convenience or of courage and conviction?
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship