Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged at Flossenburg concentration camp in Germany on April 9, 1945. His execution was ordered by Adolf Hitler, whom Bonhoeffer, along with others, plotted to kill to put an end to Hitler’s “final solution.” Perhaps Bonhoeffer gives us a window into Martin Luther’s famous advice to “sin boldly—and trust in God’s mercy and grace more boldly still.” Luther wasn’t advocating immorality any more than Bonhoeffer was justifying murder by appeal to a higher good. For both, sin remains sin and is never to be trivialized or justified.
Yet haven’t we all been in situations where we can’t see a way ahead that doesn’t cause pain or guilt? If we think we are required to remain sin-free at all times, we will never speak a word, never risk any action in this complex world—we will certainly never become bold!
Bonhoeffer learned to trust that we are saved entirely by grace, precisely by giving our life in bold, responsible action for others and thereby landing in the arms of God.
This message was adapted from “Acting Boldly” written by Lisa E. Dahill that first appeared in the April 2006 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. Today we remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian, who died in 1945.