The Story of Sophie Scholl Pt. 3
Sophie Scholl was a college student in Nazi Germany in 1942 who was executed along with her brother and one other friend for passing out anti-war leaflets.
At one time, she and her brother Hans were ardent supporters of the Nazis and members of the Hitler Youth. But they began to realize how oppressive and brutal the Nazis were, and how that conflicted with their Christian beliefs.
Instead of turning a blind eye to all of the horrible actions of the Nazis like far too many Christians around them were doing (including church leaders, I might add), Sophie and Hans resisted.
And it cost them their lives...
Before she was captured, tried, and executed, Sophie kept a diary and was an avid letter-writer. As she thought about the many Christians in Germany who, by their silence, were complicit in Nazi atrocities, Sophie wrote this:
Just because so many things are in conflict does not mean that we ourselves should be divided. Yet time and time again one hears it said that since we have been put into a conflicting world, we have to adapt to it. Oddly, this completely unchristian idea is most often espoused by so-called Christians, of all people. How can we expect a righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone who will give himself up undividedly to a righteous cause?As I was reading that again this morning, I was reminded of the ways that Jesus defied the status quo and did everything he could to turn it upside down.
The overly-religious leaders of his era had entered into an agreement with the Roman government. The Romans got to do what they wanted, no matter how brutal or oppressive, and the overly-religious leaders got to benefit from their own proximity to power.
So naturally, anyone who made them look bad pointed out their hypocrisy or otherwise threatened the balance of things in their mind... had to go. But what exactly did Jesus do?
- Jesus reached out to the marginalized and the outcast.
- Jesus broke with traditional interpretations of Scripture that did not reflect the unconditional grace and radically inclusive love of God.
- Jesus didn't condemn or punish people for their mistakes, he simply forgave them.
- Jesus preached about the necessity of nonviolence.
- Jesus healed and restored the sick, the broken, and the pariahs.
- Jesus ate dinner with the worst sinners and tax collectors he could find.
- Jesus pulled together a coalition of young, unqualified disciples who were from all walks of life---some of them actually had been enemies.
- Jesus also didn't pull punches when it came to resisting the abusive power of the religious elite, allied with an oppressive government. And they killed him for it.
One of the many things this story tells us is that Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix.What Sophie Scholl realized at a young age was that if you are going to follow Jesus, then you have to be willing to move from where you are to where Jesus is leading you, even if it put you in conflict with the status quo.
But far too many Christians in America prefer to stay right where they are because it feels safe and comfortable. They can stay distant from the pain and trouble of the world, never entering into it like the Redeemer they claim to emulate.
Jesus could have walked away from the intensity of that pain and trouble---in fact, he even asked God to find another way to save the world.
But instead, Jesus kept looking forward into the future, toward the coming kingdom of God, toward whatever was on the other side of what he knew he had to do in order to hold a mirror up to the world.
Even though he would experience the very worst that the world had to offer, Jesus knew what was on the other side of that mirror-holding-moment was the very thing that would redeem it all.
The promise of a new world... New Beginnings... Restoration... Reconciliation... Resurrection.
When you are tempted during these times of trouble to withdraw, to retreat or to simply guard your place, your position out of fear and uncertainty... know this:
There is something on the other side of the discomfort and pain you might experience if you move forward and that something is nothing less than Jesus' victory over evil and death... a victory that is yours, too.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.