Fire! The Helpless Heroes and the Vindictively Prideful, Part 7


An U-boat ready to fire

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matt 7:1-2, NIV2)

During World War I, who would we judge to be utterly despicable? Most would have an immediate answer: "The Germans!"

But wait: are all German soldiers vile?

Korvettenkapitan Von Nostritz was an exception. His task was to boycott any fleet in the North Carolinas with his Uboat U-151. Unlike most German "kapitans", He did this with chivalry, trying to avoid human causalities whenever possible.

On May 21, 1918, Von Nostritz sighted a British steamer named Harpathian near Cape Henry. He submerged before the steamer noticed him and prepared for a torpedo attack. It was a success, and the steamer's captain ordered the lifeboats to be launched as the submarine surfaced nearby. One of the 26 Chinese in the crew had been injured by the explosion. Von Nostritz took him aboard his submarine and ensured that he was taken care of by Dr. Frederick Korner. Once he had been tended to, he was put back on one of the life boats. Von Nostritz then handed out food, tobacco and fresh water to all of the lifeboats and told them how to reach the mainland.

It wasn't unusual for a captain to warn the targets to abandon ship and get into their lifeboats before he would send his torpedo to destroy the vessel. Von Nostritz did that most of the time. In this way, he was able to keep all humans alive. Unlike so many of the German commandos, Von Nostritz was a pure gentleman who cared for the lives of others.

This captain was quite the opposite of the Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as other "religious" cults, of Jesus' day. Jesus saw through their guise, calling them "hypocrites", "brood of vipers" and "murderers" (See Matthew 23). Flattering, isn't it? Even today the "religious" still exist, those who try to please God by following man-made rules, as if it was our Heavenly Father's idea. It's no wonder that God tells them: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isa 64:6, NIV2)

Our God has compassion, however, for those who go astray and don't know how to find the right path: "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matt 21:31, NIV2)

How is this possible? The "religious" are scorned by our Heavenly Father, while prostitutes and tax collectors "are entering the kingdom of God"? Why? "For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Matt 21:32, NIV2)

These "sinners" have a longing in their hearts for our Heavenly Father, while the "religious" are more preoccupied by rules and regulations and in the art of being critical towards one another. That's not what our Father wants: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35, NIV2)

Notice that through love we show our true colors. As we follow in the footsteps of our Heavenly Father, we begin to act like perfect ladies and gentlemen. So often we focus on the outward appearance, and it is so easy for us to disapprove of those we should be encouraging, while we lift up those who don't merit it. We so often find ourselves trading what is important for the things that are unimportant: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1Cor 13:13, NIV2)

An enemy is not our enemy if he cares for us. A friend is not a friend if he thinks only about himself. We are either perfect heavenly gentlemen, or we are despicable egomaniacs, treating others who are different from ourselves in a disgraceful manner.

"My friend is hurt!"

Will your response be, "I will try to help him"? Or will you be more likely to say, "Don't ask me. I am no doctor!"

Where is our compassion?

"Ready the torpedo! Fire!"

Rob Chaffart

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