I recently read the book Schindler’s List. I had seen the movie long ago, but my husband, knowing of my (morbid?) interest in the Holocaust, has gotten me several books on the subject and I finally sat down to read this one. It took quite some time for me to read, mainly because it was difficult emotionally to get through, to realize the wickedness that humanity can achieve. It includes many, many examples of the atrocious acts against Jews by the Nazi leaders. However, the main theme of the story, of course, is that of Oskar Schindler, who devised a way to protect nearly 1200 Jews from Poland through the factory he owned. He was able to somehow deceive the Nazi regime, claiming that his workers were essential to the war effort and producing much needed ammunition, while at the same time managing to avoid actually producing any usable ammunition, an incredible feat. I knew the basics of the story, but what struck me the most, at first, was the sad end to his tale. When he escaped at the end of the war (having to prove to the Allies that although he was German, he was a “good” German), he lost all his material possessions. Throughout the war, he was incredibly rich, and accomplished much of his heroic acts through buying off certain SS officers. After the war, he had nothing. He and his wife emigrated to Argentina, where he failed at the first of several business ventures, all of which would end in failure. He was basically destitute for the rest of his life, even living at times off of the generosity of the Jews he had rescued. This struck me as tragic as I finished the book. However, for some reason, early this morning when I couldn’t sleep I was thinking about the book again, and an even deeper tragedy struck me. We have absolutely no evidence, at least not presented in this book or movie, that Oskar Schindler ever even crossed paths with the Gospel. Granted, I have done absolutely no research on his life, so I cannot say this with certainty, but as far as it appears through this book, Oskar Schindler died a lost man without Christ. For all the believers reading this, you know that means that upon his death he was separated eternally from Christ. How utterly tragic that someone who was such a hero, such a savior, if you will, on Earth, is most likely spending eternity in Hell. Does that upset you, to read that, or that I would dare say such a thing? Remember the Scripture: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) Scripture is clear that no matter what righteous works we do on earth, our works are not our salvation. Schindler’s works could not be his salvation. How many people throughout history have done many wonderful things for humanity, and failed to do the one thing that would save their eternity. Schindler “saved” 1200 Jews, but he failed to acknowledge the one Jew that was there to save him. If you were upset that I would insinuate that Schindler was in Hell, would it upset you even more if I pointed out the irony that he is most likely sharing his eternal home with Hitler, the person that he dedicated several years of his life to fight against? How tragically ironic. To make this train of thought even more miserable, many of the Jews that he fought so hard to save are probably there with him. Just as works don’t save a person, neither does heritage. No matter what bloodline or family or race, no matter how many righteous deeds, no matter what we do or are in this life, our only salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not born into faith and we cannot achieve it by any works. It comes by grace alone, through faith alone.
I know this is kind of a depressing post. It was just so sobering to me as this occurred to me this morning, I needed to write it down to order my thoughts. What are the take-aways from this? I’m not exactly sure. Maybe some reading this are doing some righteous works themselves, doing great good for humanity. Maybe you need to be told that while that counts for a lot to us humans and here on this Earth, but as far as entering into God’s kingdom, your good deeds are as filthy rags in God’s eyes. There is absolutely no good thing that anyone could do that could even begin to bridge the gulf between that person and God, the gulf that is carved by their sin. If you are counting on any good thing in yourself to earn favor with God, you are being deceived. Scripture says, “There is none righteous, no not one.” When you acknowledge this truth as being true indeed of yourself, and admit that there is no way for you to earn favor with God apart from Himself and His grace, then your heart will be ripe for true righteousness. Do not be deceived. Do not spend your life doing wonderful things and miss out on the one thing that matters eternally. Do not let your life end in a tragedy, as I assume Oskar Schindler’s did.