Very moving ceremonies were held on Monday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in occupied Poland. Some 1.3m people were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War, of whom some 1.1m died, including 960,000 Jews. The scale, horror and sheer evil of this camp, and other similar ‘facilities’, are beyond imagination.
I happened to catch a few minutes of BBC Breakfast on Monday morning and was struck by the brave comments of the Christian presenter Dan Walker. He effectively stated that we must never imagine that such atrocities could never happen again – i.e. that in some awful way the Nazis were unique. Without saying it, but clearly believing it, Walker was confirming the reality of God’s diagnosis: “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17v9), the KJV rendering “beyond cure” as “desperately wicked”.
Now the Bible does not imply that all of humanity is equally wicked but it does warn that the seeds of evil are within each of us and we all, to a greater or lesser extent, veer away from God’s perfection and desire for our lives. Three quick thoughts then on ‘the end of Auschwitz’:
- any doubts we may entertain on the seriousness of our own personal sin must be viewed in the light of the horror of the crucifixion of the Son of God;
- we must oppose and resist as strongly as we can all evil persecution on whatever ground, whilst proclaiming and rejoicing that true liberation can only be found in Jesus Christ, in part now and fully in the new heaven and new earth; and
- Corrie Ten Boom faced the great challenge of whether she would personally ‘end Auschwitz’ when confronted after the war with a former SS concentration camp guard who had become a Christian. He had been a guard in the Ravensbruck camp in which Corrie had been held and her sister had died. After a spiritual battle within, Corrie forgave the man and experienced great joy and peace. One of her many wonderful quotes is: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you”.
Peace and Grace