The date December 7, 1941 eighty one ago today is one indelibly marked in the memory of our world as the attack on Pearl Harbour. 2,400 souls were taken from the earth, marking the entry of the United States into World War 2. However, there is a curious part to that awful saga. Japan’s aggression against China had begun 10 years before, swallowing up Manchuria and brutally attacking Nanjing in what is now known as the Nanjing Massacre of 1937. A conservative estimate of 200,000 people lost their lives in Nanjing alone. And all this time, the League of Nations in which the United States counted membership stood by without action.
I’ve pondered over these events for many years and I’ve asked myself what it takes to call us into action. December 7, 1941 represents to me a date of reckoning with selfishness when the troubles that others face finally come to our own doorsteps. 2,400 lives at Pearl Harbour was an awful price to pay. But a mere four years before that, a hundred times the number of innocent lives were slain in Nanjing. What are we worried about when we turn the coldness of a selfish shoulder to those who are being swallowed up by Satan’s deceit and scheming? What moves us to do nothing when the pall of “gospelessness” drapes over our neighbours? Perhaps we are too comfortable protecting what we have and forgetting that Christ said, “When I was hungry, you gave Me nothing. When I was thirsty, you drank the last drop for yourself. When I was imprisoned, you did nothing but protect your own comfort” (see Matthew 25:42 for the fuller version.) There are lessons I’ve learned from Pearl Harbour that I hope we all learn each day, and it is not to build up our defenses to protect what we have. It is to do what Jesus calls us to do like the Samaritan to the wounded traveler or Lot to the angels in the open square. Let’s make best use of our time and our resources. The days indeed are evil.