Dedication – III

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in what is now Poland (but then Germany) into a family consisting of eight children.  His parents encouraged his curiosity and pursuit of a higher education.  He completed a Doctor of Theology degree at the age of 21.

He was too young to be ordained so he came to America for post-graduate study.  He was introduced to social injustice when working with ethnic minorities.  He was appalled by the inability of churches to end segregation and began to see things through the eyes of those affected by injustice.  His faith was deeply affected by the realities he saw.

When he returned to Germany to what should have been a promising theology career, he was derailed by the rise of Nazis.  When Hitler rose to power, he went on the radio to warn Germans against falling for the cult of the Fuhrer.  The radio message was terminated mid-sentence.

Dietrich tried to get churches to voice their opposition to the persecution of the Jewish population.  Hitler’s response was to install pro-Nazi leaders throughout churches.  Dietrich tried to organize a boycott of all pastoral services but was unsuccessful.  His next move was to establish underground seminaries where he would travel from city to city.

Dietrich became a figure of the resistance movement and was being harassed by Nazi authorities.  He refused military service and joined a German military organization to avoid being conscripted.  He became a mole by passing intelligence information to those in resistance.

After an assassination attempt on Hitler failed, Dietrich was arrested and eventually moved to a concentration camp.  He was stripped of his clothes and hanged.  He was 39 years of age.

Dietrich’s dedication to a cause he thought was just had great influence on Martin Luther King and the fight for civil rights in America as well as for those in opposition to communism in Europe.

What do we know about dedication?

  • It arises from deeply set values.
  • It is unwavering, even when the consequences of dedication are severe.
  • It is not swayed by “pretty objects.”
  • It is practiced faithfully even though temptations may be great to deviate.
  • It is focused on service to others, not reward to self.

Dedication almost seems to be a lost value in our society today.  When you think of someone who is dedicated, who comes to mind?

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“Most of us serve our ideals by fits and starts.  The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.  That is dedication.”

                – Cecil DeMille (movie producer)

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