The images are still burned into my memory. 

When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed to go to movies. But we made an exception, this one time, for this one movie called “The Hiding Place.”

I was only 7-years-old, and what I was about to see in that film, would change my life from that day to this. 

The Hiding Place was about the family of Corrie Ten Boom, in Nazi Germany, in the 1930’s and 40’s. Their family had built a hidden room in their house, to hide and protect Jews from the Nazi concentration camps.  

But, of course, they were found out and sent to the camps, themselves, along with those they were hiding. 

Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where Betsie died shortly before the camp was liberated. The story is very famous and Corrie (and her family) are considered “Righteous Among Nations” for their efforts to help the Jews in such a horrible time. 

At seven, I didn’t yet know about concentration camps or what Nazis did or how horrible people could be to each other. And all I wanted to do, while watching that film, was get on that screen and start punching those Nazi guys. 

I remember just crying uncontrollably at the constant horror of it all. 

But here’s what stuck with me the most…

Corrie and her sister seemed to keep checking themselves and their own responses to this absolute evil. 

And this really puzzled me. Why were they even thinking about their own hearts? They were the victims, here. They had no power. They were the ones being brutalized. And yet, they were always talking about forgiveness and ways to love and ways to comfort. 

Why were they not planning escapes and devising new and interesting ways to retaliate against their oppressors? Come on, ladies. Did a prison shank never cross your mind? 

It may have crossed their minds, but that emotion and thought was conquered by something bigger and deeper and wider.  

Later, I realized that THAT was the true hiding place; the place where you are still in touch with your creator and still in touch with your humanity and still in control of your response to any situation. 

THAT hiding place is the only one where you can find true peace and redemption and meaning and deliverance from evil. 

When I think of the Ten Boom family and the hiding place, today, I cry for completely different reasons. 

The Nazis got what was coming to them. There was plenty of violence leveled against them. They felt the wrath of recompense and the terrible swift sword of justice for their crimes. 

And am I saying we shouldn’t stand up to injustice and level Nazis? Of course not. Am I suggesting laying down and taking it, when faced with a clear evil? Not even a little bit.  

But what stuck with me about the Ten Boom story was the idea that even in the face of evil, we still have a choice in how we keep our hearts. And if we have that choice, that means that our individual souls still matter. And that may just be the most important thing of all.

The Apostle Paul (and Christianity as a whole) gets some grief for his admonitions to slaves, to be good servants (or however you want to translate it). 

Many like to contend that this is Christianity’s tacit acceptance of the evils of slavery. But it’s kinda something deeper than that… 

Christianity was a fringe movement, with absolutely NO power in the world, when Paul wrote those passages. And I personally think what Paul was saying was basically what Corrie and her sister were saying; your individual heart matters, no matter what situation you find yourself in. 

This has always made the following of Christ such a powerful thing to me. It means that no matter what someone does to you, Christ still sees you with personal agency…no matter how the state or society sees you. 

It also means that your salvation (or lack thereof) isn’t based on your station in life or which side of a conflict you find yourself on. Christ came for the individual…not the collective. 

That means that if one of those Nazi guards asked for forgiveness in his heart, before getting blown to bits by the allies, he too could find salvation. 

But here’s the hard part…

It means that someone being brutalized could turn as evil as their brutalizer. And, in a weird way, this knowledge keeps us all on our toes and equalizes us in the most profound way. 

We love to quote the iconic MLK phrase “content of character.” But with that quote comes the subtle implication that we will only see how good someone is. Judging the content of someone’s character might, however, mean seeing how dark and despicable they are. 

This is why we have to get beyond race and gender and this group and that group’s get-out-of-good-and-evil-jail free cards. 

We’ve created this narrative that everything is about power structures and systemic monopolies and cadres of pawns and kings. And those without the power have more latitude for doing bad things because they are victims of something. In fact, the “bad things” they might be doing are actually (probably) good things on the whole. 

During the 2020 riots (and, in so many places, that’s what they were), I had many (white) friends who asserted that burning down buildings was totally acceptable if there was a certain kind of injustice taking place against certain people. 

And I wondered if they would go downtown and protest the re-building of those structures, once all the passion had dissipated. They, in fact, did not. Which means they were fine with the buildings being there in the first place. And (more importantly) they were fine with the ownership of those buildings. They just wanted to virtue signal to their black friends, in the moment. 

In Nashville, our very own Mayor did that.  

And that is a weird kind of racism all its own. It is basically saying to an entire group of people, “go ahead and do destructive things. You are justified because of your race/gender/sexual orientation/ whatever. And your heart doesn’t really matter. Because you don’t have enough power for it to matter.”

But Jesus wasn’t a closet racist. And he seems to differ with that idea. As did Corrie and Betsie. As did the apostle Paul. 

Today, Tyre Nichols is being laid to rest, in Memphis. His murder (and it WAS a murder) is tragic and horrible. And my heart goes out to his family. He was the beating victim of 5 black police officers. Personally, I don’t care what race the murderers were. But in this case, it has a measure of importance. 

Because the narrative that cops beating up black people is all about race is kind of suspended in this instance. And we are seeing that the content of character that MLK talked about, applies to everyone. And it can cut in any direction, at any time. 

Making people believe they are exempt from evil because of social standing, is one of the worst lies you can perpetrate on someone. And it breeds the worst kind of imbalances in humanity. And it will ultimately lead to the worst places humanity can go. 

That’s why Jesus’ revolution was for youyes, you…no matter who or what you are and no matter how inoculated you think you are by your particular place in the social justice ven diagram.  

Basically, anyone wearing a police uniform can become a power-wielding murderer, regardless of their race. We’ve seen that, now, in the worst possible way. 

The content of your character isn’t dependent on your skin tone or plumbing or whatever. 

We all have the ability to be evil, no matter what complicated power structure we find ourselves in. We all need constant redemption and salvation, even if we’re being brutalized in a Nazi prison camp. 

That’s why we all need to find the hiding place.  







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5 thoughts on “HIDING PLACES …

  1. I love that perspective of the hiding place. As a side note: One of the guards did seeks Corrie’s forgiveness, years later. I believe the account can be found in her book “Tramp for the Lord.”


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