I'm reading a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. It's fascinating, deep, moving, disturbing, inspirational and more. I didn't know a whole lot about Bonhoeffer's life before reading this book. I had previously read a couple of things, including a book on his lectures on his Christology. If you don't really know who he was, briefly, he was a great leader of Christianity and theological thinking and understanding in Nazi times and was murdered by the Nazis. Apparently he became part of the Valkyrie plot; I'm not to that part of the book just yet.
Anyway, what I wanted to discuss today is a little statement on page 240. Bonhoeffer thought that anything less than obedience to God smacked of "cheap grace." Actions must follow what one believed, else one could not claim to believe it.
This seems to me to lead me to one of my problems with us humans, that is congruence or lack of it. If one believes something, but does not act in line with the supposed belief, can a person really claim to believe that thing?
Say someone says it is the most important thing in their life to be "green" and be environmentally careful. But, let's say, that someone has huge houses, huge cars, private jets, a glamorous life full of travel and use of tons and tons of fuel. Can that person really be said to be an environmentalist?
Or let's say that we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, working in our lives to live by his example. But we are not typically forgiving, loving, kind, inclusive, praying, meditative, healing children of God. Can we really be said to be followers of Jesus Christ? So, I think we could examine our actions and determine what beliefs they portray. Then we could examine the life of Jesus and determine what we would need to change to follow his example more fully.
Then there is Bonhoeffer's idea that we must be obedient to God. What would that mean in our lives? I think first it would be to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. One of the things he did was to pray and go into silence regularly, listen and then act as a result of the listening he did. I think we need to listen quietly to hear "the wee small voice" so that we can be more able to honor God's guidance by obedience. My experience has been that by regular quiet times in spiritual contemplation, I am more and more able to be guided during my daily life.
To be true to our guidance, we have to at times notice and ignore the opposition of others, not be swayed, but stay true to God. Others may doubt us and our motives, but God knows what is really going on in us and with our relationship to God. Bonhoeffer surely lived this as he stood up to the crazy Nazi nationalization of the church and its work of turning the church away from scripture and Christ.
The challenges I have at this point in my life are not so vast. There are a few, from time to time, who see me in a different light that I see myself, and in the light that God sees me, for God KNOWS. Of course, to be sane, I must consider all attacks and challenges to see what if any truth they might contain. I am only on a spiritual path. I am not an example of arriving at some mythical all-knowing place. I realize that because God is Infinite, I, as a finite person, can never know all. I can never be God. What I can do is look at the highest and best that I know to be my goal, and see how I'm doing living it. Perhaps, if I live this well, I will be able to move a few more steps along the path, see a bit more, learn to live a bit more spiritually attuned, and continue along the path.
I offer forgiveness to those who do not understand. I offer compassion for those who arrogantly believe they know all. I offer prayer for all.
My beloved Father, this day once again I come to You. Help me to hear, listen and act in accordance with Your Will. Give me guidance and courage and vision to live more closely as Christ lived. Lead me another step along the path, closer to You, closer to being who You created me to be. I give thanks to remember You hear me always. Your will be done. Amen