We use Netflix to rent movies at our house. One of the things that’s great about Netflix is the huge selection of movies they offer – from the most recent and popular to the most obscure.
A while back I watched one of those obscure films. It was called Berlin: Symphony of A Great City. Made in 1927, it is a montage of film set to classical music taking the viewer through an average day in the city of Berlin. You watch as the city awakes, as the doors to the street car barns are opened and the people begin to trickle out of their houses for work and school. You watch the shops open and see the commerce of the city move into full swing for the day. You see the rush subside as people take a break for lunch and then ramp up again for the remainder of the day. Finally you see glimpses of the night life of the city as people frequent restaurants and clubs after the work day has concluded. Being a lover of history, I found this fascinating. I was able look back in time and see what daily life was like in another era. It was like the films you see of the children of Nicholas II of Russia roller skating on their yacht or the photos of people on board Titanic as she sets out on her maiden voyage. You’re watching people go through their daily lives who have no idea of the enormous tragedy that is just around the corner for them.
This film was made only six years before the National Socialists, led by Adolph Hitler, came to power in Germany. Only 12 years before the German invasion of Poland which began World War II. Only 18 years later, the ‘great city’ would be reduced to rubble, occupied by the Russian army and then divided in two for the next 50 years.
As I watched I was not only seeing the overall scene but the faces of individuals. Which of these shopkeepers or factory workers or businessmen would be carted off to a concentration camp in the next few years? Which of these tow-headed school boys with their rucksacks would end up a frozen corpse on the Russian front?
It struck me that we can take no comfort in the normalcy of our lives. Just like the people in Berlin all those years ago going about their daily business – we too could be just around the corner from tragedy. Nothing in this world is sure. If we build our lives on the here and now or find our security in the things of this world, we are doing what the Bible calls building our house on the sand. Jesus says in Matthew 7:27 that houses built on sand will collapse into rubble when tragedy strikes. However, if our security is in Christ and our lives are built on His foundation, no amount of tragedy will ultimately destroy us. Jesus says of this kind of house:
“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” Matthew 7:25
I think there is a greater propensity here in the United States more than in some other places in the world to base our security on the trappings of civilization – on the assumed constancy of the ‘American way of life’. We expect things to be much the same for us as they were for our parents, if not better. The truth is our world could be turned upside down in the blink of an eye just as it was for the people I saw in this film. Only the Lord knows what the future holds for us as a nation. Whatever happens the time to cultivate a heart that trusts the Lord and finds its security in Him is now.