Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Tidbit from Bonhoeffer

I've embarked on the epic journey of reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. An epic journey, because this book has a total of 542 big, well-crowded pages! So far, the first 124 pages have been inspiring, challenging, edifying and fascinating (that's a long list of adjectives, but they all apply to this book :). The following passage, quoted by Bonhoeffer, is one of those profound ones that inspire reflection. My response to it was, first, to read it to my family :). Second, to jump on blogger.com to post it! Please bear in mind that Bonhoeffer had known the Bible, the Gospel, and Christian theology a long time previous to writing this quote. He had preached many times in churches, completed a degree in theology, written doctoral and post doctoral theses on the Church, and acutely examined the state of the western church. So with all this in mind, we read the following, written by Bonhoeffer himself, about himself:

I plunged into work in a very unchristian way. An... ambition that many noticed in me made my life difficult... Then something happened, something that has changed and transformed my life to the present day. For the first time I discovered the Bible... I had often preached. I had seen a great deal of the Church, and talked and preached about it - but I had not yet become a Christian... I know that at that time I turned the doctrine of Jesus Christ into something of personal advantage for myself... I pray to God that that will never happen again. Also I had never prayed, or prayed only very little. For all my loneliness, I was quite pleased with myself. Then the Bible, and in particular the Sermon on the Mount, freed me from that. Since then everything has changed. I have felt this plainly, and so have other people about me. It was a great liberation.

And later on he says:

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament... And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way - and this has not been for so very long - it becomes every day more wonderful to me.

How true are these thoughts. We can try to determine where we want to find God, and in what aspect we want Him in our lives. But this is not the God of the Bible! This is not our Lord and Saviour, Who has redeemed us from the bondage of sin and death, and is calling us to a wholely new, resurrected life in Him alone. As Bonhoeffer said, the start... and the daily continuation... of this journey is not immediately congenial, for it involves a breaking, and it involves losing faith in the goodness of man, and seeing the death sentence which is on this world, and these bodies of sin. These quotes of Bonhoeffer really inspired some thought provoking questions. Am I pursuing the theology and knowledge of Christianity alone, whilst not truly knowing Him? Am I trying to find God where He is congenial to me, instead of going to the cross and seeing the Truth? Thank God, the answer to all of our questions is found in the Lord Jesus, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


Sarah said...

Amen and Amen, Maddy! This is really true. How many times we try to bring God down to us, instead of us meeting Him where He is ... at the foot of the Cross. Jesus lead us to your cross!

I'm glad you're discovering the life and works of this great Christian. I haven't yet tackled that book yet, but I've read others. He lived in a very dark time and yet believed and trusted in God and he was able to LIVE in Him and to SEE Him. There is a lot we need to learn from him in our day and age.

God Bless,

Maddy said...

Yes, Amen! It was great to hear your thoughts on this Sarah, thanks. It is a book well worth reading, if you have the time at some stage. Yes, there is so much we need to learn from Him for our day. His life story is very inspiring and helpful. I hope that your assignment week is going well... the Lord is with you.

God bless,


Joy said...

Hi Maddy,
Amen! May we not only know a lot "about" Christianity, but "Know HIM!" and to meet Him at the foot of the Cross, where all our "preconceptions, terms and congeniality" crumble when we see Him in His love, His holiness. For Bonhoeffer, the Sermon on the Mount truly challenged him and I believe should challenge us too in our day and age, to take it for what it says and to truly live it. It is good that you have tackled this enormous book! I didn't read all of it through, simply because of its size, but I read through quite a bit, particularly the very beginning and the second part of the book and found it very inspiring!
God bless,
love Joy

Maddy said...

Hi Joy,

Amen - that we Know HIM and meet Him at the foot of the cross! Yes, we should truly be challenged and inspired by the Sermon on the Mount, to live it. And crumbled and melted when we see His love. That is very true.

Love, Maddy