A Lesson from “Schindler’s List”

The highly acclaimed 1993 film Schindler’s List is based on a true story — and it contains a very real, very valuable lesson every Christian ought to consider.

The film begins in Krakow, Poland in 1939. The forces of Nazi Germany, led by the SS, begin rounding up Jews for relocation to ghettos — and later to concentration camps. Meanwhile, a German businessman named Oskar Schindler arrives in the city in hopes of making his fortune supplying arms to the German army. He is a member of the Nazi Party and bribes members of the German army and SS in order to gain lucrative contracts. He begins by operating a factory making army mess kits.

However, Schindler does not know a lot about running a business, so he hires a man who does have some business sense to help him run his factory. The man he hires is Itzhak Stern, a member of Krakow’s Jewish Council with contacts in the business community.

Schindler hires Jewish Poles to work in his factory because they cost less than Catholic Poles. The Jews who work in his factory are deemed “essential” to the German war effort and are allowed outside the ghettos. Later, when Jews are packed into trains for transportation to concentration camps and “extermination,” the Jews in Schindler’s factory are allowed to stay.

Things begin to get a little complicated when the SS officer in charge of Krakow, a man named Amon Goeth, develops a taste for blood. He likes to kill Jews for little or no reason — including the Jews at Schindler’s factory. During the course of the war Schindler has to go to greater and greater lengths to justify the Jews in his factory and to try to get more Jews hired. It is an attempt to save their very lives. Schindler has to bribe Amon to accomplish this.

As time goes on Schindler has to utilize more and more of his resources to save the lives of Jews in Krakow. So…

…what does any of this have to do with Christians?

Only this: Like Oskar Schindler we live behind enemy lines and we have both limited resources and limited opportunity. For a short time we have the opportunity to use the resources God has given us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a world that is lost and dying. The day will come sooner than we think when we will be called home to be with Christ — our chance to reach the lost forever gone.

I know most Christians realize this to be the case. What I fear is that we do not know the extent of the situation.

At the end of Schindler’s List the war comes to an end. Oskar Schindler is able to see first hand the crematoriums where Jews were murdered. Although he knew there was work to be done, and he was doing it, he did not realize just how grave was the situation. When he finally sees, and realizes the horrors of Nazi Germany he wept openly, broken that he had not done enough. Here is the exchange between him and Itzhak Stern at the end of the film…

Oskar Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don’t know. If I’d just… I could have got more.

Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.

Oskar Schindler: If I’d made more money… I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I’d just…

Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.

Oskar Schindler: I didn’t do enough!

Itzhak Stern: You did so much.

Oskar Schindler [looking at his car]: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.

Oskar Schindler [removing Nazi pin from his lapel]: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.

Oskar Schindler [breaking down in uncontrollable sobs]: I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!

On the day we face our Lord Jesus Christ I suspect we will realize just how grave is our situation. We will realize that we had opportunity after opportunity to witness, to share, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ — and we didn’t. What will we say…

“I had an opportunity to share Christ with my neighbor, why was I so afraid?”

“My car, for the amount of money I spent on my car I could have funded a church plant in Nepal for a year.”

“This watch! This watch could have provided Bibles to a poor congregation in the Andes Mountains!”

“I didn’t do enough!”

“I could have paid for one more Bible. One more Gospel tract. One more missionary… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!”

The apostle Paul, while in prison, wrote a letter to young Timothy and said…

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” — 2 Timothy 2:8-10

Paul said he endured “everything” for the sake of the elect. For the people out there in the world who will run to Christ when they hear the Gospel.

Are we willing to “endure everything” for their sake?

What earthly treasures are worth more to us than the very lives of the elect who are still out there…


Note: My wife originally came up with this analogy during a discussion in our Sunday School class. She is a smart lady and gets the credit for this idea — all I did was put it in written form. She also writes her own blog at porkchoptuesday.com.

About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

3 Responses to A Lesson from “Schindler’s List”

  1. PC Tuesday says:

    Tears rolling down my cheeks!

  2. Joeyanna says:

    Weeping now. With divine coincidence or providentially as the case maybe, I read a few things the other day about evangelism (especially because of the numerous lost members in mine and CD’s extended families and what we have done to reach them with the Gospel); part of our problem is that the IC has been teaching wrongly on the matter for quite sometime. Here are two very good articles I read on the subject: http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-evangelism.html

  3. Hem says:

    Great work again Jeff be looking forward for the next book review

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