I was standing in Martin Niemöller cell in the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp. Niemöller was “reasonable” and took the wide road of conformity and compromise not willing to becoming a lightning rod on the issues of his time (1938-1945). He was bothered by Nazis and did some to right the wrong but was NOT willing to go the next step. He thought we was secure by playing it safe but it lead to regret and imprisonment.
I could be like him.
Martin famously penned these words- while in that cell.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The path God calls US to is not to ensure complete and total safety but to live a courageous life knowing in Gods hands is the safest place to be. Standing in his cell that day sobered me to the fact that a life of compromise was knocking at my door yet that life will lead eventual to regret and imprisonment.
In contrast, Bonhoeffer burned like a bright light. He always urged Martin to cross the line of speaking more directly against the Nazi religion with him but Martin was too afraid to do so.
Following Jesus is a narrow courageous path empowered by the Holy Spirit vs a broad road of fearful, self-perserving conformity. The world has it all backwards. Christianity is a culture of Courage and ‘the righteous’ (i.e. followers of Jesus) are ‘as bold as Lions’ Pr. 28:1