Only Christ Treats Us Like Human Beings

 
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They put us in a barn and that was really Dante's Inferno, because everybody was dying. I wouldn't be surprised that 85 percent of the people died there because of the diarrhea and the stench and the frozen bodies were unbelievable. Every place, you sat next to a corpse. They had poured gasoline around, all around, and they were gonna burn the whole thing.
Next thing, we hear banging on our barn doors, and Russian spoken. And they opened up the doors. All of a sudden I saw… a strange car coming down the hill, no longer green, not bearing the swastika, but a white star. It was sort of a mud splattered vehicle but I've never seen a star brighter in my life. And two men sort of jumped out, came running toward us and one came toward where I stood. And he said, "Does anybody here speak German or English?" and I said, "I speak German." I would say it was the greatest hour of my life. And then he asked an incredible question. He said, "May I see the other ladies?" You know, what...what we have been addressed for six years and then to hear this man. He looked to me like a young god. I have to tell you I weighed 68 pounds. My hair was white. And you can imagine, I hadn't had a bath in years. And this creature asked for "the other ladies." And I told him that most of the girls were inside, you know. They were too ill to walk, and he said, "Won't you come with me?" And, and I said, "Sure." But I didn't know what he meant. He held the door open for me and let me precede him and in that gesture restored me to humanity.
– “All But My Life: A Memoir”, by Gerda Weismann Klein

Surely we have all heard of the horrors of the holocaust too many times to count. How the Nazis treated people like animals literally blows our minds. Yet American slavery surely comes close to such inhumanity. Oh, but we can also point to Stalin’s purges, the Khmer Rouge’s massacre, trail of tears—a trail of man’s ability to treat others like animals follows us like a dog.

For there are private crimes against humanity going on all around us, behind closed doors, in abortion clinics and porn studios, in middle class bedrooms, outside elegant bars, among Christian families just leaving church, with words that strip us of our dignity and fists that make us bleed. Sin does that. The devil loves that. When Eve took the fruit she wanted to become like God, ironically she already was made in His image! Yet instead she became an animal, and God became her master. So, she and her partner in crime scurried for shelter like a dog running from the whip.

Some lie and tell us that to sin is to be ourselves. But it is not. Sin is not natural to humanity. It is actually contrary to our nature, though it momentarily seems so right as it serves our deepest screwed up desire. We—all of us—have shoved ourselves into a dark barn sprinkled with kerosene, waiting for a match. It’s insane, really. That damn devil and our damned minds.

A couple of days ago I visited in the hospital a beautiful young girl whose mind had convinced her that she was not hungry, that she was ugly, that she was an animal. With all our technology, airplanes congesting the skies and 4K video games stealing our eyes, we dwell in a barn of crap and death.

So, like Gerda’s hero, God comes on the scene. At first we’d guess He would light the fire and burn the whole place down. He gave us His image and we traded it for cheap soup. But instead Jesus opened the door. The light burns our eyes and reveals our wickedness. Yet, He reaches out His soft gentle hand and lifts us up. We could go on and on with repentance, but with a Word He silences all our excuses. With a cup of water in washes away all of our dirt from the wilderness. Our Hero forgives us with a word forever. He embraces us through the arms of His saints and treats us like human beings for the first time in our lives! He opens the door for us and ushers us into His garden. Like the woman at the well who scurried around the corners of society like a rat, yet Jesus converses with us as if we were worthy to be in the presence of God!

In Christ and in Christ alone our humanity is restored!

Unlike the world, Jesus does not use us and throw us away. He purchases us with His blood because we will be of use to Him. He calls us brother, sister, lady, mister. We are no longer orphans. We are no longer animals. In Jesus we are who we were truly meant to be. Now by faith clinging to His light, that is His Word. But soon, very soon, we will see the completion—the telos—the new heaven and the new earth never to be shoved in a barn and darkness again.

Taste and see it in His holy supper—a meal for kings. Go… you are free. You don’t need to hide from the Master. And all the heart-broken and heart breakers cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

 

Rev. Joel Hess is the fortunate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI, where God’s reality pierces through our illusions by His Word, flesh and blood and gentle waters.  He is the author of many half written projects; a talented musician and artist.  His contributions to the Jagged Word deal with the intersection of theology, culture and the arts.




 
 
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