by Maxine Easom
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Recently I received an article from my sister entitled “12 Essential Bonhoeffer Quotes: Timeless wisdom from a giant of Christian thinking”. They confronted my complacency and challenged my focus. I am sharing them with you, as we each confront in ourselves what we must.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is considered to be one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. His thoughts are powerful in and of themselves, but taken in the context of his own life, they become so profound. Being born into a family of doctors and scientists, going into the ministry was not thought to be a fitting profession. Then serving as a pastor in Germany during WW I and WW II, he found himself conflicted by the shifts in the German church and in the shifts of the German consciousness. In all, Bonhoeffer’s story was of one who was willing to go against the norm and undergo suffering for his people and for the God he was committed to following. He was killed in a concentration camp shortly after his 39th birthday.
ON SILENCE: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
ON JUDGING OTHERS: “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. But judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
ON GRATITUDE: In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
ON INJUSTICE: “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
ON ‘DEFENDING’ THE BIBLE: “Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God’s word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity.”
ON REAL MORALITY: “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
ON SPIRITUALITY: “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
ON FELLOWSHIP: “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.”
ON PROOF OF GOD: “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.”
ON PEACE: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protest oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”
ON GOD’S LOVE: “God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world.”
ON GOD’S WILL: “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” (Actually not a Bonhoeffer quote, but a paraphrase of one of Bonhoeffer’s principles described in Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer. )
Prayer: Lord, help us to confront our own complacency of being comfortable with what is. Help us to eradicate our own certainty of what others should be doing. Move us to open ourselves to you that you can change and transform us into your hands for your work. Amen.