On my recent trip to New Orleans, we went to the national WWII museum. In the 4D movie featured there, Beyond All Boundaries, they mentioned that famous WWII journalist Ernie Pyle had one last column tucked inside his pocket when he died. Reflecting on the war, he had written these words:
“Dead men by mass production — in one country after another — month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer. Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous. Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them.”
He wrote these powerful words about literal dead men he saw lying on the ground wherever he went. But as I heard them, I could not help to think about the spiritual dead all around us, those without the life of Christ dwelling inside of them.
For many years, we as American Christians only saw the spiritually dead laying on the ground once in awhile. Oh, they have always existed, lots of them. Each of us was one at least for a few moments ourselves. But they were not always so obvious. Most people we met and knew at the very least gave lip service to belief in God. They did not lie there on the ground for everyone to step over.
But it is no longer so. Just today I talked to a woman who is dying. She told me she asked one of the help if they believed in God. They responded with a quick and cold, “No.” We see the spiritual dead lying everywhere now. In our families, at our workplaces, and in our community. We hear them speak in Ted Talks. We watch them sing from grand stages. They even walk among our youngest children in the schools.
The dead should be mourned. They should draw forth our compassion. Our eyes should well up with tears. Our Lord’s eyes did. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
But the more they are lying around, the more likely we are to lose our compassion. The more likely we are to begin to hate them. The more they become an inconvenience to us. We get sick of stumbling over them. Their smell inflames far more than our nostrils. We begin hate them.
But Jesus still loves them. He still desires to breath life into their dead bones. Their death is His sorrow.
Dear Lord, remove from us our hatred of the spiritually dead. Forgive our sinful frustration with their continual presence. Give us hearts that love the dead all the way into Your arms. Amen.