“Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.”
John 15:23 NLT
When working on religious liberty issues, I visited the former concentration camp, Auschwitz. It was the end of January to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day. It was colder than I’d ever experienced and the horror of its past seems to have been etched into every building that remained.
We, like everyone else, walked around in silence, our emotions and rationality numbed by what our eyes witnessed. Among the many photos were pictures of groups of men and women, cowering together in the open, stripped naked for their euphemistic showers. Somehow the stripping of dignity before the stealing of life only enlarged the level of horror represented.
It’s unsurprising that we feel most vulnerable when stripped naked. There is nothing to hide behind and we feel acutely vulnerable and often embarrassed. As fragile humans, we value our privacy and we crave dignity. Our great fears revolve around the loss of either.
As a society addressing the needs of the elderly, the physically and learning disabled, we do not always do well in protecting either privacy or dignity. The measure of my humanity is tested in the way I treat my neighbour, known or unknown. Shared humanity demands a common code of mutual respect; do as you would be done by.
Jesus, in the moments before death, is stripped of his clothing and his last remaining human dignity. Raised up upon a cross and exposed to the crowd, this was intended as his greatest and final humiliation. Even as consciousness faded, his final memories were to see his possession gambled away.
Yet, this is the way of the cross. In making our way with Jesus, even as we practise obedience there will come a moment when our privacy and dignity appear irrevocably invaded. In fact, this process is where I mount my strongest resistance. Like the prey upon the hook thrashed violently sensing its demise, so I resist hardest in the very shadow of the death of self. My freedom demands death and while I know this intellectually, my instinct is to resist until the end.
Question – How hard do you fight to retain your privacy and dignity before God?
Prayer – Lord God, help me to do nothing out of selfish ambition, but make your will my goal.