“Since it appeared impossible to save the Jewish people who were being methodically annihilated by the Nazi-organized killing process, a sense of obligation grew among Jewish record-keepers (they say so explicitly and repeatedly) that they must at least preserve the evidence of the very process of destruction.
“We should read in these efforts an intuition that one could effectively oppose, indeed frustrate, the Nazis’ plan of annihilation of the Jews if only a record of the Nazis’ evil deeds were preserved. Victims of the Nazi crimes apparently believed that engraving the whole story in memory and preserving it for posterity effectively canceled the very essence of the Nazi project.” — Jan Gross, Neighbors.
As Christians, we have been called to do the work of Christ. In the Greek, the word “Christian” is Χριστιανός (Christianos). It is simply defined as someone who is a “follower of Christ” — a follower of Christos, the anointed one.
In 1 Samuel 9 and 10, Samuel anoints Saul with olive oil, recognizing him as the first king of Israel. Similarly, this process continues for those subsequently placed on the “throne” of Israel. The original anointed and the anointed descended from less than ideal kingly situations and ancestry.
Saul and his predecessor David were the most unlikely of kings — Saul a Benjamite “from the smallest tribe<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”> of Israel…the least<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”> of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin” and David, the runt of Jesse, “the youngest…[who merely] tends the sheep.”
But in the same vein, Jesus, the anointed one and “son of David,” became king over all — the physical and the metaphysical — from the womb of a woman seen as an adulterer and into a trough for slop.
The way Jesus performs his kingly duties correlates with the degrading manner in which he was born. He reaches out to the marginalized and degraded. The opium of the evangelical church, the cliche that resonates from youth pastors and pulpits, is, “since Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, the homeless, the tax collectors, the adulterers, etc., as followers of Christ, we must too.” And to that, I completely agree.
Oftentimes though, the implementation of this spiritual exhortation manifests itself with the lay person enacting “preacher” mode. Preacher mode is the systematic way in which you construct a good for the teleological end of justification. The actuality of it comes in various forms — actual preaching, feeding the homeless, fighting for the rights of the wronged, etc. Another way of saying it might be, and this is probably a subconscious reality within the minds of Christians, “In order to do X (glorify God), I must do Y (preach in order to justify).”
The impression of “preaching” from the “congregation” could possibly be complentarianism in a philio-like relationships. The preacher is greater because he has all the answers, and his people are below him and need to assimilate all that is said into his own life in order to obtain a state of salvation. There is definitely truth to the idea — God, in his love and grace, poured out his spirit on me, so I want others to experience it as well. But, we don’t attribute our grace to our messenger, our Apollos or Paul, but to the spirit himself! You can boil it down to this — we view the Gospel as completely soteriological and my actions directly influence the soul of another.
But, there is another mode. Some might view this distinction as splitting hairs or merely a debate of semantics, but the distinction needs to be made. This other mode you can call “pastoral mode.” The word pastor derives from the Latin pastorem (nominative pastor) which means “shepherd.” King David, the man after God’s own heart, was a shepherd. Christ himself is the “Good Shepherd.” What does the pastor, the shepherd, do?
“I know my sheep<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”>—and I lay down my life for the sheep.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> 16 I have other sheep<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock <sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”>and one shepherd.” — John 10
The beauty here is the fact that the sheep and the shepherd know each other and the shepherd guides them back to the flock when they stray. Jesus, the king, the anointed one, stepped down from heaven to serve and to know those who wandered away. To know someone implies the transfer of experiences, love, and knowledge to another. To know is to cut to the core of another, and carry whatever you find their on to your own shoulders. To know assumes pain.
When the blind man calls out to Jesus, and Jesus guides the man to himself in Mark 10, he doesn’t instantly preach the gospel of salvation to him, but instead asks him a simple question:
“What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man said, “Rabbi,<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AZ)”> I want to see.”
By lowering himself and making himself like those within the created order, the relationships with his brothers and sisters is similar to “the core of Vygotsky’s theory…the sense that children must be actively involved in teaching/learning relationships with more competent others who both learn from children and draw them into fuller membership in their cultural world” (J. Tudge & S. Scrimsher, “Lev Vygotsky on Education”). Jesus, while God, is also man, and he walks beside us as the “more competent other,” the shepherd leading his sheep, the pastor guiding his flock.
Because of this pastoral mode, a mode so often employed by Jesus, one of the true gifts a Christian can give to another is the gift of listening to another’s story, just as Jesus listened to the blind man. It can be a greater material gift than food and shelter while also being a greater gift, at times, than the explicit gift of sharing the notions of the soteriological gospel.
The quote at the beginning of the post shows the Jewish mindset during the Shoah. While their suffering undoubtedly caused them to cry out for their pain to cease, they believed that by recording and passing down the horrors done against their people, that in some way or another the Nazi project, in all its deviance, would be cancelled out. The art of story telling and the reception of the story by their listeners could lead to the destruction of the German’s grave sin. Thanks to those who documented the destructive nature of the holocaust, man is more in tuned to the capabilities of man in his depraved nature.The power of this story cautions us to certain actions and presses us to treat all of mankind as image bearers of the father.