Bonhoeffer as an Inspiration!

Our relationship to God should be the deepest motivation in our life! Sometimes it propels us into a situation that collides with our culture. Such is the case with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I recently read “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas. It was incredible! Not only did it give the historical background, but it showed the progression of Bonhoeffer’s thought from being a pastor to becoming a spy. He started as a quiet pastor, and ended up as a member of a plot to assassinate Hitler. He took time to pray and seek God’s plan for his life and as a result God used him far beyond him life to show Christ to others.

He saw Jewish freinds and family members intimidated and imprisoned. As the brutality against Jews increased across the German countryside,  his ability to speak out diminished. The Nazi regime used increasingly repressive policies and force to make people keep quiet. Hitler convinced the German Lutheran church to validate his policies and to control what the congregations were told. The German public became convinced that what he was doing was “the Will of God”. To combat these ideas, Bonhoeffer helped set up the “Confessing Church” as an alternative. Many of its members were Bonhoeffer’s students, and other Christians who were opposed to the state control of church matters. The “Confessing Church” wanted its people to follow one’s conscience and to follow God’s word–the Bible. They felt the Nazi propaganda was opposed to the work of God. The government-controlled media slandered innocent people., Then, they mysteriously started to disappear. Statutes were instigated that made it illegal for Jews and others who questioned the government to speak up. They were confined and, later, killed in concentration camps. Compassion was something the Hitler Regime seemed to know nothing about! Yet, compassion was something that is the basis of God’s message.

As it says in John 3:16″ For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This love of God is found in the greatest commandment- “To love one another!”. Bonhoeffer felt this deep in his spirit! The Nazi power needed to be stopped before it spread, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer found it increasingly difficult to stand by and do nothing. He went to England and America to work. At the encouragement of other leaders, he went to England and America to work. They worried about his safety, and wanted him to continue his writing. His conscience would not let him stay — he felt he could not save himself while others died! While in America, he encountered the enthusiasm of the Black Christians in Harlem, and the lifelessness of the traditional, organized church. He had to make a choice. He choose to go be obedient to what God had placed in his heart. He could not live while others suffered for what they stood for!So, he went back to Germany. While doing church work, he started working closely with forces seeking to assassinate Hitler. This activity lead him to be arrested in 1943, and taken to a concentration camp. He was in several camps until he was hung in 1945. Many of his thoughts are expressed in his book “The Cost Of Discipleship”.

The following paragraph expresses his idea of life: ” The bearers of Jesus’ word receive a final word of promise for their work. They are now Christ’s fellow-workers, and will be like him in all things. Thus they are to meet those to whom they are sent as if they were Christ himself. When they are welcomed into a house, Christ enters with them. They are bearers of his presence. They bring with them the most precious gift in the world, the gift of Jesus Christ. And with him they bring God the Father, and that means indeed forgiveness and salvation.” This was based on Matt.10: 40-42.  Bonhoeffer lived this out in his final days in the concentration camp. He was everyone’s pastor. He was kind and compassionate to others, and, even, showed grace to his guards! Everyone was touched by him and the God he served. He lived and died as an example of Christ so that others would see Christ in action.  He may have died, but God continues to use his writings and life as an example.

We live in trying times! The economy is crumbling. Many lives are being challenged personally by events beyond their control. The ability to speak the Truth as we see it in God’s Word is being challenged. Legal battles and laws are being passed that hinder our ability to speak up. I see a time, much like what Bonhoeffer faced, coming when our faith will be tested. We should not be afraid! He held his head high, and followed God’s leadership! So we should live quietly, following God’s leadership and being examples to people we meet. Everyone we come in contact with should be touched by His Spirit! Wherever it may take us, we must be ready to hear God’s small voice! We must be willing to obey it at all costs, and have the courage of knowing God is with us!!!!