The Wrong Side of History

A CBS Sunday Morning Report on Harriet Tubman popped up on my YouTube feed. Intrigued by the new movie, I watched. Like most, I was impressed by her story. What she accomplished given her circumstances made it compelling. But what remained with me beyond her story was her face. Her face matched her story. The dark haunting eyes bore witness to the horrors she’d seen. The stern, sober expression testified to her unbending determination to face the enemy in her path. A single soldier at war with an institution. There is no sign of superficiality in her face. The gravity of her mission has left no room for flippancy. History tells the story of her bravery in the face of danger. Yet for every one Harriet Tubman, there are thousands, if not more, who by their choices or apathy found themselves on the wrong side of history.

Harriet Tubman

This daft age has us unaware that our history is being recorded. And what side we fall on will also be determined by our choices or by our apathy. We’re playing around, pursuing happiness, living our best life, absorbed in self interest; unmindful of the story that we will tell. Many in Nazi Germany thought they were choosing patriotism. History prove them unable to justify their actions, and they found themselves on the wrong side. What will history say of us?

Will we allow them to say, “When America was losing it’s soul, it’s citizens were talking selfies with bunny ears and posting pictures of their substantial meals.”

I believe we are intoxicated with our freedom to choose ourselves. It has numbed us to the high calling of self sacrifice for the greater good of humankind. Even the body of Christ has bought into the insatiable notion of self-care. The truth is that we are to do nothing from selfishness and empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than ourselves. We know this is true, yet we have tried to serve two masters. Pastors no longer make bold proclamations of truth, preferring the more passive imitation of stage comedians. It’s more in step with the spirit of the age.

Somewhere inside we know we are choosing folly. It’s not like we don’t know we have become blindly tribal. We can see it clearly in the other tribes. We are having ridiculous social media debates, knowing full well we have no intention of changing our position. A fight no one can win. We enter not to find truth but simply to fight. It’s not that we can’t agree, we refuse to agree.

There is something terribly wrong when the greatest democratic experiment in history is having a national debate about chicken sandwiches, then creating memes to mock our own folly.

It’s as if we have been possessed by the vapid spirit of the age. Jesus warned us not to love the world.

The haunting eyes of Harriet Tubman reminded me of the higher calling we have as image bearers of Almighty God. The sobriety in her face is a call to drink no longer of the spirits of the age. These are dark days and the historians have new pens. The story is not unfamiliar. We know the way. Sacrifice comes from telling the truth. Not speaking truth to power or speaking your truth. That’s just more tribal language. I mean simply having the courage to tell the truth. To stand up for what’s right.

History bears witness to the selfless and the sober, those who sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. But history exposes those who prefer to pursue the perils of self interests.

We are choosing today what history will say of us later.

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