When I was little, my Dad used to drop me off at a nearby church so I could go to a Sunday School they had there. We weren't a church- type family, so what I saw and heard there was all new to me. And I remember the painting they had of Jesus. Now I know it's one of the most famous ones painted in modern times. You may have seen it. Jesus is in a garden, and He's knocking on what looks to be a big oak door. The man who painted it was named Holman Hunt. And when he was ready to unveil it for the first time, he called his friends and family together to be the first to see it. Well, it was pretty quiet as each person stood there and drank in the deep feeling that that painting conveys. Then people began to comment on what impressed them about it. One friend said hesitantly, "Uh, Holman, it's a beautiful painting. But, well, didn't you forget something?" "What did I forget?" The friend said, "The handle. There's no handle on the door." To which the artist simply replied, "Oh! No, I didn't forget the handle. When Jesus knocks on the door of your heart, the handle is on the inside."
BICYCLES: Two-wheeled exercise machines, invented for dogs to control body fat. To get maximum aerobic benefit, you must hide behind a bush and dash out, bark loudly and run alongside for a few yards; the person then swerves and falls into the bushes, and you prance away.
"On March 12, 1938, Hitler's forces moved across the border from Germany to occupy Austria, extending the realm of the Third Reich. The Austrians did not resist this advance with military force, and it became known as the Anschluss, which in German signifies a "connection" rather than a conquering. Vienna and all of Austria changed dramatically. The Nazis (and many Austrian supporters) hung their flags from buildings and placed severe restrictions over the city. They enforced a strict curfew and arrested thousands of Jews, sometimes charging them with nothing more than leaving their neighborhood.
On the twenty-fifth of March, just a week after the Anschluss, Adolf Hitler gave a speech in which he said, "[W]hen I crossed the former frontier (into Austria) there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."
Since Hitler is known for being a master propagandist, his view of the Anschluss cannot be trusted. However, there is quite a bit of evidence that the majority of Austrians favored the takeover. Some were already members of the Nazi party. Many may have felt that resistance wouldn't have gained anything, and they might as well keep a low profile to protect their families. Most who did resist were immediately silenced by arrest or assassination. Austria had not been a powerful nation since the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Hitler capitalized on her still-bruised pride, promising that as a part of the German Reich she would be strong and glorious.
Supporters of the Nazi party did not consider themselves under enemy occupation. Since they shared a common ethnic heritage with the Germans, they counted themselves as citizens of the Third Reich and embraced the change it brought about. Some Austrians, however, recognized the Anschluss as an enemy invasion. They saw the Nazi military rule as dictatorship and the persecution of the Jews as heinous, and they worked to regain Austrian independence.
In a sense, this world bears a close resemblance to an enemy-occupied country. In the Gospel of John, Jesus regularly refers to Satan as the "prince of this world." As the sitting dictator, the father of lies delights in a world full of death, disease, and sin. Because Satan has been the prince of this world for so long, it is hard for us to imagine a world that is not under his occupation. Often, citizens of the new heaven and the new earth may forget that we are not citizens of this world, although we may be getting used to it. We may be tempted to think that the powers of darkness are here to stay and that there is nothing we can do about it.
Those who are of the world welcome Satan's rule (though most would never recognize it as such) and try to get in step with his methods in order to gain power for themselves. But they do not understand that a greater, far more powerful King is on the move. He is waiting for the right moment to take back his throne and undo the powers of darkness.
We are told in John 12:31, "now the prince of this world will be driven out." In that day, the vestiges of enemy occupation will be removed. I can only imagine what some of these might be; death and disease first come to mind, followed by more minor things such as locks on our doors and weeds in our garden. Just as liberated citizens are allowed to once again play their national anthem, perhaps we will be able to hear the music of heaven that we can't hear now.
God's victory is assured. As Martin Luther wrote
And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure;
Because Christ's victory is sure, we must hold fast in our resistance of evil and never give our allegiance to this world. If we do so, we will reach our homeland and know true liberation in the kingdom of God. Betsy Childs
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