For the past several months, in between reading books for seminary, books for church purposes, and books for reviews so that I can get more free books so that I can read more books for reviews, I've been reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and also Bonheoffer's book Discipleship. (I put links to these at the end. They're affiliate links, so if you click and buy, I'll make a nickel or two. Go ahead, it won't hurt.)
What I've found has been challenging. First of all, as a note for readers and people that want to learn: I highly recommend reading a biography of a person and one of their own works at the same time. It gives some interesting insight, especially if you're dealing with an individual whose writings have been edited and footnoted with information about their life. You can compare and contrast, and you can also see where certain ideas developed.
One of the ideas from Bonhoeffer's writings that I'm wrestling with is his idea that, basically, Christians are to have a relationship with Christ alone. Not with any other person, place, or thing (anything noun-y), solely with the Savior.
I think I've often heard and even preached that we relate to all others based on who we are in Christ, but I'm seeing here something that's a step further. It's more of the idea that we don't really relate to anything but Christ. Then, Christ in us relates to the world around us. I think of Galatians 2:20 with this:
Galatians 2:20 (NAS)
20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The idea, as I'm seeing it presented, is that in a sense, a Christian is always alone, except for Christ. That we are to be satisfied with Christ, and that this applies not only to the material but to people as well.
As I consider it, this makes sense. What is the most common issue that hold Christians back from obedience? The real, passionate, sold-out "I don't care if it kills me or costs me everything I have" obedience? Frequently, it's fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the consequences.
Yet, if we are only focused on our relationship with Christ, what do we care if we are rejected by all around us? If we are whole-heartedly alone with Christ, wherever we are, whoever we are with, will we not find ourselves more readily obedient?
A note of balance, which is present in Bonhoeffer's writings as well, is that: 1.)Christians ought not head to the hills in isolation; 2.)The Word of God controls our behavior. My view on these? Let's remember that God is never self-contradictory: so, our steps to achieve this alone-ness cannot violate Scripture commands, like avoiding divorce, husbands loving their wives, and so forth.
This is a bit of a jumble of incomplete thoughts, but it's what I was wrestling with before the alarm went off this morning. The question I woke up with was "Am I living as if all I see is Christ, so that when others look at me, all they see is Him?"
What do you think? About yourself, personally. I'm wrestling with me enough for myself.
|Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy|
|Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4)|