A WWII story.
Franz is tired; tired of having his life controlled by these Jews that his family has rescued, tired of being forever secretive: tired of having no friends. Even so, he is devastated at the thought of leaving his home and moving to Poland. Poland?!? At least there won’t be any cringing Jews there.
But Franz is wrong – there are Jews in Poland, too. And these Jews need help desperately. Will Franz set aside his frustrations and continue to work in secret? And will his family’s efforts go undiscovered, or will they all be forced to run for their lives?
Both of the main characters – Aryan Franz and Jewish Karl – exhibit character growth. Karl comes to understand what it is that Christians believe and in the end believes himself (that part was a bit cliché, but oh well).When Franz and Karl are on the run from Nazi soldiers, Franz could very easily have saved his own life by abandoning Karl to his fate. Instead he chose to stick with Karl and sacrifice his own chances of safety.
Early on in the story, and stretching into the middle, Franz is discontent with his family’s decision to help Jewish refugees. He feels that they have taken over his life and ruined his friendships. This sentiment, while selfish, is at least understandable. But he overcomes his distaste by what I consider to be bad theology.
The reason Franz’s family protects Jews is because (like many other Christians) they believed that the Jews were still the chosen people of God. Franz even thinks that perhaps he will receive blessings because the Bible says that those who bless Israel will be blessed. The problem with this view is that it neglects what Paul teaches in Galatians 3.
Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. [v. 7]
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. [v. 16]
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. [v. 14]
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. [vv. 28-29]
There are many more verses that I could pull out here, but I shall cut myself short for the sake of my readers. But I think the above verses make it clear that it is they which are of the promise, those which are chosen in Christ who are the specially blessed of God, not any one people group.
Also, Ms. Swinford harps over and over on the fact that Christ was born a Jew and the idea that no one actually killed Christ.
It’s true that the Jews rejected Christ, but no one took His life.” Karl gave him a baffled look and Franz hurried on. “Jesus gave his life. Why, Karl, He was born just so He could die for our sins. If He hadn’t died, then no one could be saved. Besides, people who call Jews ’Christ-killers’ don’t love Him. If they did, they would love the Jews because Christ was a Jew! [pg. 77]
Franz finished praying and crept into bed, where he lay staring at the dark ceiling. He thought about the non-Jews who called them “Christ-killers,” but he sure couldn’t see that those people loved Jesus or lived for Him! Besides, he knew well that what nailed Jesus to the cross had been his own sins. His and the sins of the entire world; so the truth was, no one had killed Christ. [pgs. 8-9]
Now, I agree with Ms. Swinford that Christ gave up his life willingly. No question there. But I disagree that this makes “no one” responsible for His death. Peter, speaking to a Jewish crowd in Acts 2:22-24 says,
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”
Peter here emphasizes both sides – Christ was delivered by the counsel and foreknowledge of God (of His own will), and yet was taken and crucified (by the Jews’ wicked hands). The Jews themselves acknowledged all responsibility for Christ’s crucifixion in Matthew 27:24-25:
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”
Because of these verses, I believe that while Christ’s crucifixion was the uncorrupted will of God, I also believe that the human hands which committed the deed are guilty. This does not mean that I believe Jews should be punished or held responsible for this crime today; on the contrary, I believe that Jews should be treated with the same lovingkindness that Christ has called us to show towards every man.
Also, Franz thinks several times how Christ died even for Hitler’s sins and how he loves every single Nazi out there. Blah.
On one occasion, Karl asks to talk privately with his father. His father responds by saying,
“Of course! You sound as if you have some weighty matters on your mind.” He added mischievously, “Not girl trouble, I hope.”
Karl blushed. “Nothing like that!” Though he did have to admit that the new girl across the street was pretty cute. “I just need to talk to you, that’s all.” [pg. 14]
Karl and his father go on to have a meaningful conversation with no more reference to romance.
Karl says in reference to the Sabbath that, “This was a wonderful, spiritual time that never lost its magic for him.” [pg. 13]
Ms. Swinford writes that after a bombing took place, “People walked on the streets like zombies.” [pg. 19] I’m not sure what that simile is supposed to mean, but eww!
On one occasion, Karl, a Jew is offered pork.
“Karl knew, of course, that it wasn’t kosher, but Mrs. Hanssler was kind to them and he could not hurt her by refusing her food. Besides, his father had always said that the Eternal was merciful and understanding. [pg. 98]
Now, I do not believe that it is wrong to eat pork. But since Karl did think it was wrong, I thought it was inappropriate of him to eat it on the premise that God is understanding.
Conclusion. A worthwhile story – I think that the theology can easily be worked through – can even be used by careful parents to teach children how to properly view different people groups. Although not exceptional in its history, Run for Your Life! gives a moving glimpse into the hearts and minds of those who helped Jews to escape from Hitler.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret