“You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” (Hebrews 10:34, NIV2)
Who do we know who would be happy to accept the “confiscation” of his “property”? How would we react if that happened to us? Wouldn’t we, who live in the Western world, complain bitterly? Wouldn’t we go out and hire the best lawyer on the continent? After all, what we are talking about here are our precious belongings, the things we have worked hard to accumulate over the years.
Sadly, though, once we pass from this earthly existence, many of these precious belongings aren’t considered that precious any longer, and many end up in a yard sale or in the junk yard.
Why are we so fixated on these then?
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was just 27 years old when many churches in Germany embraced the rise of Nazism and created the Deutsche Christen group (“German Christians”), which would become the voice of Nazi ideology. Non-Aryans, a term that refers to those who are non-Jewish Caucasians, especially of Nordic descent, were banned from the pulpit, and Jews were no longer allowed in Christian churches, even if they had been baptized. Many advocated to even remove the Old Testament from the Bible!
What would we do if that happened in our day and age? Would we stand up for the truth? Or would we shake our heads in silence?
Dietrich could not stand the hypocrisy and he decided to do something about it. He firmly believed that if non-Aryans were banned from the ministry, then all ministers should resign in solidarity. His beliefs were received with a deaf ear, and so in May 1934, the anti-Nazi Confessing church, a church that was to remain free of Nazi influence, was established. A year later an underground seminary was established for Non-Aryans to obtain their theology degree. Jews, as well as other Non-Aryans, deserved to be treated like anyone else!
On April 5, 1943, 3 months after Dietrich had become engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer, he was arrested and taken to the Tegel prison. His property was confiscated, and he gladly gave it up, as he too knew that he “had better and lasting possessions”.
On April 9, 1945, one month before Germany would surrender to the Allies, Dietrich was hanged at Flossenburg. His last words reverberated in the minds of the soldiers attending his execution: “This is the end – for me the beginning of life.”
Dietrich didn’t put his possessions on a golden pedestal, nor did he consider his life as all-important. He knew where he was heading and that was the most important thing of all.
In his book “The Cost of Discipleship”, first published in 1937, Dietrich clearly indicated that the only purpose for earthly belongings was to be used. The goal was not to be accumulated. This reminds us of the manna provisions in the wilderness. Manna kept overnight went bad. Accumulated possessions become a barrier between God and ourselves, as our trust is not secured on the Eternal one, but in our earthly treasures. Dietrich’s conclusion was this: Amassing distracts us from God!
This makes me ponder: Do we truly find solace in our possessions, or do they more often than not become an irritation at times?
Do you have 5$ to spare?
(To access the entire “Becoming Rich Without a Dime” devotional series, please click here.)