In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom gives an account of her family’s provision of refuge for Jews during the Nazi persecution across Europe. Corrie’s father often stated, “The master of this house demands that we open the door to anyone that knocks.” Even as he was referring to himself, he also referred to the divine Master. This was the line Mr. ten Boom offered to the many who objected to his behavior. To the Jews, he simply opened the door.
The ten Booms were living as Christ’s Body, which meant that they must live as true neighbors to those in need. When Mr. ten Boom decided to wear a Jewish star after it was ordered that all Jews must thereby distinguish themselves, he made the decision to live among neighbors, to see fellow human beings — not people with differences, not people beneath him, nor men and women facing an adversity that had nothing to do with him. “If we all wear them,” he said to a man standing in line for his star, “they won’t be able to tell any difference.”
Our greatest task as Christians is not arguing, reasoning, defending, or preaching, but living as Christ’s Body; living the words we profess with a love for both Word and neighbor and with a clear vision of the God who spoke them both into existence.
Before their arrest and subsequent sentencing to the concentration camp, the ten Boom’s pastor pled with them to follow an easier ethic: “It is the law,” he said, referring to illegality of harboring Jews, “and Christians must obey the law. Think of what you are risking for one Jewish baby.” But Mr. ten Boom knew there was yet a higher law. “We are meant to obey the law of the state–if it does not go against our higher law of God.”
Like the ten Booms, the Confessing Church that stood up to Hitler’s regime was not trying to be relevant or contemporary, liberal, conservative, or rebellious; they were trying to be confessional. Saying “no” to Hitler, they were being who they claimed to be. They were living the reality of the gospel they professed with their mouths. In the words of a dying Betsie ten Boom, “There is no pit so deep that Christ is not deeper still.”
Christ calls us today to allow the Gospel to live itself out in our lives. He calls us to live as neighbors.