I frequently remind myself, “Righteous anger usually isn’t.” But David’s article this month touched on something that I really do get angry about. I’m angry when people who otherwise claim to be evangelical say that they/we have no right to evangelize Jewish people because of the Holocaust. It’s as though my own family in Christ has taken one of the most horrendous things that has happened to my people and unknowingly made it even worse. How could people purporting to be evangelical ever think, much less say that we should not witness because of the Holocaust?
I can only guess, but I imagine the thinking goes something like this. The pain of the Holocaust remains a searing wound. How can we inflict more pain by insisting that Jewish people need this very Jesus in whose name family members were slaughtered? If we see this issue as a matter of Christians having the warmest possible relationships with Jewish people, maybe on some level that makes sense. And I do appreciate brothers and sisters who care about the pain my people have endured and are truly committed to having good relationships with them. Except.
Except when those relationships come at the expense of the truth. And the truth is, the Holocaust had nothing to do with Jesus. The truth is, only the gospel makes the eternal relationship that God wants to have with any people, Jewish or otherwise, possible. So who can stand before the risen Lord and say “I had no right to tell Your people about You because of the Holocaust”? I have actually imagined people trying to have that conversation with Jesus and maybe I’m wrong but I always conclude that the would-be speaker could only end up with downcast eyes and heartfelt repentance.
So what does that have to do with the average person’s walk with the Lord? After all, whether or not you would allow the Holocaust to prevent you from telling Jewish people the gospel might never be an issue.
Well, my own anger got me thinking. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t always speak out about the power of the gospel when I should. It’s not because of the Holocaust, but because I’m tired, or on my way somewhere or I don’t really believe the other person will hear me.
So if I were standing face to face with Jesus, would I be able to hold my head up and say “I was too tired or too busy to tell this person about you…” or “I didn’t bother because they wouldn’t have listened anyway”? I don’t think I could say any of those things to His face. Maybe you have had similar moments where there might have been a fleeting thought to share the gospel with someone and you let it go for whatever “reason.” And maybe if you take the “imagine telling Jesus about it” test, you would feel like I do.
There’s a difference between saying we have no right to tell people about Jesus and admitting that we simply failed to show up for an opportunity. I would not want to try to justify either to His all-knowing face. But you know what? When we don’t try to make our failure sound like it’s the right thing, when we don’t make excuses but admit our weakness, God can, and will, step in to help us!