In the moments and hours immediately following the invasion, the news agencies within both the Axis and Allied powers clamored to learn more, and to be the first to report updates on the status of the battle. Doubtless, each had their respective motives in doing so, as putting a “spin” on the news is nothing new.
The Allied powers certainly wanted their listeners to know that they were in fact invading Europe. Conversely, most historians agree that the Axis powers initially reported the truth of the invasion solely because they wanted to build up a veneer of credibility; so that later on, whenever it might prove advantageous, they could misrepresent facts in their reporting, and so deceive both their enemies, and if need be, their own German audience.
Eventually, the first official communique released by Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (abbreviated as SHAEF) was released. The single laconic statement was brief and to the point: “Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces, supported by strong air forces, began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.”
Soon thereafter, the governments of the various Allied nations involved also took to the airwaves, each with official pronouncements, and each speaking to their respective citizenry as to what was expected of them during this fateful time. The first three of these nations included Holland, Belgium, and England. Not surprisingly, in such cases, the message was fairly straightforward: “We are coming. Be ready, be vigilant, and be faithful in this difficult time. Here is what we expect of you until then.”
In other cases, however, especially where the Nazis were occupying powers, the message was not so definitive and clear cut. There is no better example of this than inside France itself, where the French people were receiving mixed signals.
The first came from their titular leader, Marshal Philippe Pétain, who headed up the puppet regime ruling France under his Nazi warlords, known as the Vichy government. His message implored the French people to remain passive and continue to submit to their Nazi overlords.
Broadcasting form Nazi controlled stations inside France, he told them to obey orders to stay indoors after dark, and when venturing forth in daylight, not to gather in groups of more than three. In short order, he claimed, the Allied invasion would surely be repulsed, and the enemy would be thrown back into the sea. For this reason, the French people did not senselessly need to invite later reprisals from the occupying Germans.
His message was not encouraging. It wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be just what it was, a tool designed to keep a defeated people in subjugation to an evil power.
At the same time, however, broadcasting in absentia from BBC stations in England and North Africa, Charles De Gaulle, the true leader of the French people, offered a radically different message. His words offered encouragement to his oppressed people. He told the French people that the hour of their deliverance was indeed at hand; and that the liberating army, of which the free French forces he was now leading was a part, had in fact already landed, and that they were even now fighting to set them all free. He wanted his people to be encouraged by all of these matters.
But his words also contained another message as well - a call to arms! He told the French people that they should listen intently for exact instructions about when and what to do in order to rise up and join in the struggle to throw off the oppressive Nazi regime. Lastly, he underscored that now was the time to be courageous as victory was within their grasp. Each French citizen must now be prepared to do what was expected of him or her.
Thankfully, each of these broadcasts has been recorded for posterity. You can read them online, where they are readily accessible with a simple Google search.
I share this today because I cannot help but see the parallels for Christians in the modern world. We clearly live in a world where the evil one holds sway. He seems all too invincible in his worldly authority; as day after day, his minions do his bidding and encourage us to passively submit to his authority, and to do nothing that might offend or alienate him or his earthly cohorts in any way.
Yet, over and against this message is the one we receive from our true Lord and Master: Jesus Christ. His message, by contrast, is one of encouragement, not discouragement! His message is not to conform, but to resist! His message is to remain faithful to Him rather than the evil one, knowing that the day and hour of our deliverance is even now at hand!
On June 6, 1944, the French people had a decision to make. Would they follow the urging of an imposter, or would they be true to the promptings of their true leader? History records that they chose De Gaulle over Petain. And within a few short weeks, they were indeed free from the rule of Nazi tyranny!
It seems to me that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we too have a decision to make. Will we follow the urging of so many of our worldly leaders, a great number of whom seem tirelessly to encourage us to submit to the evil one and his agenda for our lives and this world?
Or will we muster the courage to ignore this misleading message and listen instead to the words of our one true Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, Whose message is so radically different from that of the world?!
I remind you of what Jesus Himself said in the New Testament gospel of John (chapter 10, verse 27): “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
In light of all of this, I have made my choice. As the day and hour of my liberation draws increasingly nigh, I will henceforth listen to only one message; and that is one spoken with the voice of my true Lord and Master, Jesus Christ!
What about you? Whose message are you choosing to heed today? Will you simply be complacent, be compliant, and go along with the urging of the evil one and his minions? Or will you recognize that such an approach is inherently antithetical to your true identity as a follower of Jesus Christ?
Give careful consideration to your answer; for whatever you decide will have significant consequences in your life, both for this world and for the next!
The 24 straight hours of radio recordings of D-Day from CBS and NBC referenced in my previous blog post, “SAID AND DONE” of 09.29.20, contain many of these speeches.