Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Guides

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the most extraordinary men to have ever lived. Born to one of the most celebrated Psychiatrists of all time, Dietrich was exposed to frequent visits from professors, academics, political leaders, who all came to speak with his father at their family dining table. This became the seedbed for Dietrich's incredible hunger to learn and understand. He exhibited all the hallmarks of being an emerging genius. But he recognised that there was so much to understand about the world that he could never read of in any book. He turned to prayer and found Christ to be a fount of more than knowledge...

By his early 20s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a newly graduated Theological student, was famous. His sermons were being heard weekly by thousands, and perhaps millions more were following his progress around the world in the 1930s. But One person held Bonhoeffer's attention while one person desperately wanted it. Although Bonhoeffer was a genius, he was a devoted follower of Christ who believed that God spoke, guided, and deeply moved a person in their soul. Because of this he was a man who practiced the prayerful reading of Scripture - he expected God to speak to speak to him. And like never before, there came a time when Dietrich Bonhoeffer urgently needed to hear from God because the man who wanted his attention, Adolf Hitler, was now breathing out murderous threats.

Corrupt German Clergy who had been beguiled by Hitler

In his early 20s, the great German, Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a national audience thanks to Radio- Deutsche Welle. Bonhoeffer spoke to the German nation with prophetic courage as he warned his countrymen about the growing danger of the beloved Nazi Party. Unlike his colleagues, pastors and theologians, Bonhoeffer was not fooled by Hitler. They had 'theologised' the Nazi agenda. One group of pastors even formed a society (called "The German Christians") and developed a series of doctrines which justified hatred toward Jews by claiming the New Testament taught it! They went so far as to claim that Jesus was actually not Jewish! Bissarely, many Christians accepted their teaching without question. But not Bonhoeffer!
Philippians 3:9a and be found in him...
In the midst of so much personal and national turmoil, Bonhoeffer wanted to be found in Christ. He prayerfully read his Bible and looked to the Lord to speak to him. But as Hitler was raging he was forced to take immediate action. He fled Germany for America. But on the voyage over, he cried out to the Lord in prayer and asked God to speak to him. He felt increasingly that perhaps he had done the wrong thing. He determined that he would cut short his time in America to only stay a year. But the more he prayed the less peace he had about his decision. He returned after 26 days.

Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship"
At a time when his colleagues were embracing Liberalism (denying the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture - that is, the Bible is not really God's Word) Bonhoeffer preached the Jesus of the Bible and believed every word of it. He led a move to withdraw from what he saw as a Biblically weak and compromising Church and formed a new group called The Confessing Church. But the Fuhrer didn't look favourably upon this new group and Bonhoeffer was soon tracked down and jailed at the express orders of Hitler. From his prison cell he wrote some of the most profound sentiments about the glory and wonder of Christ and His church. Far from feeling the church had let him down or betrayed him, he recognised that the True Church was full of failing saints who depended upon the grace of God but were found in Christ. To Bonhoeffer, true Christian fellowship was only possible if both parties were in Christ. This was true "life together" (which became the title of one of his most profound books dealing with the believer's relationship with Christ and each other).
He [God] is the source of your life in Christ...First Corinthians 1:30a
Just three days before Germany surrendered, the spiteful Hitler ordered that the imprisoned Bonhoeffer, aged just 39, be executed by firing squad. Dietrich faced his long expected execution with the full confidence that he was in Christ.
Bonhoeffer was led away just as he concluded his final Sunday service and asked an English prisoner Payne Best to remember him to Bishop George Bell of Chichester if he should ever reach his home: "This is the end — for me the beginning of life."Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography, p. 927
One of the latest, and probably best,
biographies on the life of
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Christ is our not only our Saviour, He is "our life" (1Cor. 1:30; Col. 3:4). It is our moment by moment goal to be found in Him. Even in the midst of horrible distractions, Bonhoeffer managed to maintain his fellowship with his Saviour through prayer, Bible reading and most preciously- fellowship with others who were in Christ. I am stirred by the story of Bonhoeffer. I am stirred to pick up my Bible in the midst of my mundane trivialities (disguised as urgent demands for my immediate attention) and to quietly ask God to speak to me. I am encouraged to settle my soul so that I too can sense the leading, directing, and guiding of God. I am stirred to meet with Christ and to be found in Him.
Lord Jesus, I need You. You are becoming to me increasingly magnificent. Your wondrous glory fills my mind. I think of You when I read of You. I hear You speak to me when I read of speaking to others. I want my mouth filled with songs for You. I want my mind reflecting on what You have said. I want to know You more and I especially want to be known by You. Lord, take my mind. Take my heart. Take my soul. Captivate my attention. Cause me to draw closer to You even in the midst of all that life can distract me with. Help me to be a husband who reflects You. Help me to be a Dad who bears Your Name well. Help me to be a pastor who points people to You and brings honour to You. Keep me. Guard me. Guide me.
Ps. Andrew

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