"Oscar Schindler's Faithful Folly" - or - "The Beauty of Ordinary Heroes"

This week's devotional is from Pastor Art.

ENCOUNTER

I remember seeing the movie, “Schindler’s List” and weeping uncontrollably during the scene where Oskar Schindler is berating himself for not exhausting more of his fortune to save a few more who had been condemned to an agonizing “concentration camp life” and the slow, torturous death of the gas chambers that were housed there.

“I didn’t need this car. Why did I keep this car? Ten more people right there.” Schindler confessed, “And this pin [his Nazi lapel pin]. This is gold. Two people.”

For me, it was the most stirring scene in the movie – Schindler’s mind racing through thought after emerging thought of “what ifs” that were fueled, no doubt, by him having just been presented with a ring crafted from the gold in various teeth that had been willingly surrendered by some of the very people he had saved.

ANYONE WHO’S SEEN THE MOVIE, “SCHINDLER’S LIST” OR READ THE BOOK, “SCHINDLER’S ARC” KNOWS GOD USED OSKAR SCHINDLER TO DO EXTRAORDINARY THINGS DURING WWII. AND HE IS RIGHTFULLY CELEBRATED AS A HERO AMONG JEWS AND NON-JEWS ALIKE.

He exhausted the fortune he had made in his wartime factory - estimated in 1948 to have been around 1.1 million dollars – on bribes, food and shelter to protect, feed, and house the Jews who worked in his factory.  At first, these efforts were driven by his business plan, but eventually the oppression and mistreatment he witnessed came to repulse him and his heart filled with love and compassion for his factory workers.

So changed was he that, though he began the war spying for the SS, by the end of the war he was in contact with the Jewish underground and other resistance groups, reporting on the plight of Jews in occupied areas and assisting in the funding of their resistance efforts.

  • In 1963, he was named “Righteous Among the Nations” by the state of Israel, an award granted to non-Jews who were actively involved in saving Jews during the Holocaust;
  • In 1966, he was awarded the German Order of Merit;
  • Schindler is the only former member of the Nazi Party to be buried in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion.
  • Written in German on his headstone are the words, “The unforgettable lifesaver of 1,200 persecuted Jews.”

There can be no argument about the fact that God used Oskar Schindler to do something extraordinary.

BUT FOR MUCH OF HIS LIFE, SCHINDLER WAS ANYTHING BUT EXTRAORDINARY.

  • The consummate opportunist, he was a German industrialist under the Nazi Regime, resulting in significant personal profits;
  • Early on, he was involved in espionage for the Nazis. His primary motivation, stated in his own words: “Because I needed the money”;
  • Schindler was a hopeless womanizer, carrying on multiple affairs and, at least in seasons, being unfaithful to his marriage vows;
  • He was a heavy drinker and, as has already been noted, an "ethicless" profiteer in his early adult years;
  • He suffered bankruptcy in almost every business he started that didn’t involve the rescue and protection of “his Jews” - even after the war was over.

IT CAN EASILY BE SAID THAT, BEFORE HIS HEART BEGAN TO CHANGE BECAUSE OF THE YEARS OF CONSTANT INHUMANITY AND MISTREATMENT OF THE JEWS OF HIS WORLD, OSKAR SCHINDLER WAS QUITE “ORDINARY” – OR PERHAPS EVEN SOMEWHAT LESS THAN ORDINARY.

BE TOGETHER AND BE REFLECTIVE

Solitary refection is good and essential for spiritual growth, but, in general, we grow best when we’re connected to other people, so this week’s challenge is to “be reflective together”. 

Arrange a meeting (coffee, a meal, etc.) with at least two other folks to read the following texts and discuss the questions below:

  1. Romans 12:1-2:  What is a normal, “ordinary” life for the follower of Christ?
  2. Colossians 2:20, 3:3: What might be some correlations between the idea of dying with Christ and being used to do extraordinary things for Christ?
  3. Hebrews 11:  Jeff, Ben, and I purposely stayed away from preaching from this chapter during this series since we recently taught on it already, but, according to the writer of Hebrews,  what are some of the ways God might define “extraordinary”?
  4. Luke 22:54-60; John 21:15-19: In your opinion, what drove Peter to deny Jesus when it was pretty clear he actually loved him very much? What might be keeping you from being used to do extraordinary things for God – in other words, where might your restoration and recommissioning bmost needed?

BE A BLESSING

End your time together by doing the following things:

  1. Remind each other of the grace and forgiveness God always offers through Jesus;
  2. Each of you affirm one thing in each of the others that stands out in them as a strength or gift God can use;
  3. Read Matthew 28:16-20 in unison (choose a common translation).
  4. End by praying the Lord’s Prayer together.