This past week, the Tribeca Film Festival celebrated the 25th anniversary of the iconic film Schindler's List, directed by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg said, "I have never felt since Schindler's List the kind of pride and satisfaction and sense of real, meaningful accomplishment--I haven't felt that about any film post-Schindler's List."
But it wasn't easy. Regarding the filming of the death camp scenes, Spielberg was quoted this past week as saying, "There was trauma everywhere. You can't fake that...two young actors, both Israeli, couldn't shoot for the next three days." And in one especially gruesome scene involving children, Spielberg said it "was probably the most traumatic day of my entire career."
So why did Spielberg put himself and his crew through this? Very simple. He wanted no one to ever forget what happened. As Spielberg said last week, the Holocaust events should be made mandatory in the "social science curriculum in every public high school in this country." I agree with Mr. Spielberg.
But on a far deeper spiritual level, his concerns also have great importance for us as followers of Christ: namely, that, as humans, we all have a natural tendency to forget --not just the bad things that happen in life, but the good and wonderful things that God so kindly does for us.
God warned the Israelites about this again and again. In Deuteronomy chapter 8, Moses said, "For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land...a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing...And you shall eat and be full...But take heed lest you forget the Lord your God...lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not understand...Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power, and the might of my hand, have gotten me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers...And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish" (Deut 8:7-19, excerpted).
Now, these words seem eerily and frightening prophetic regarding our nation. And, indeed, praying for a Holy-Spirit driven revival in our country is massively appropriate. But sadly, these words from the Bible are so often true of us as individual believers in Jesus. I know that I struggle with this: always making sure that I do not forget the Lord and all His mighty mercies and works on my behalf. I often take far too many of God's blessings for granted; to forget to say "thank You, Jesus"; to act as though God's kindnesses are "due me."
I know how much I appreciate it when someone writes me a thank-you note. Sadly this is a dying art in our society today. And friends, God enjoys getting thank-you notes from His children in Christ too--not "hand-written" but "heart-written."
One of my favorite events, and one of the most poignant happenings in the Bible when it comes to this is found in Luke chapter 17. "As Jesus went on His way to Jerusalem, He passed between the countries of Samaria and Galilee. As He was going into one of the towns, ten men met Him who were lepers, and who stood afar off. They called to Him, 'Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us!' When Jesus saw them, He said, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' As they went, they were all healed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and, with a loud voice, glorified God, and fell down on his face at Jesus' feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, 'Didn't I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Is this Samaritan the only one who turned back to give thanks to God?'” (Luke 17:11-18).
Every day, I pray and ask God, "Please, Lord, don't let me be like one of the nine lepers." Every time God does something for my boys, or my grandchildren, and they tell me about it, I always try to say to them, "That's wonderful--now don't be like one of the nine lepers!" I know this annoys them, but I say it anyway--because we all need to be reminded!
So, may I say to you today: don’t forget to “turn back” and thank God for all your blessings and then "DON'T BE LIKE ONE OF THE NINE LEPERS!"
Leprosy was an incurable disease in Jesus' time, contagious, and could produce horrible disfigurement.