Reading biographies and books on history not only remind us that there is nothing new under the sun, but helps us find courageous examples to follow in our present trying times. I find much to learn through the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who watched and lived through the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s and 40s in Germany.
Well, he didn’t actually live through it, because they killed him before the end of World War II.
The Bible, for Bonhoeffer, was not some intellectual exercise or philosophy, but a guide to daily living. It was practical and related to every aspect of life. That is one reason he made memorizing and meditating on Scripture a daily practice and part of his teaching curriculum in seminary.
It was not only the Bible that guided Bonhoeffer but the concept and reality of the incarnation of Christ.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.*
He was not an other-worldly creature that exposed ideas too lofty for mortal man to understand. Jesus was a man like us, who lived like us, that we could follow the life lived for God that he modeled.
This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.*
Just as Christ modeled the life for us, Bonhoeffer sought to model it for his students. My question today is, “Am I modeling the Christian life for others?”
When Bonhoeffer faced censure and ultimately prison, he did not survive because of philosophies or intellectual ideals, he survived because Christ lived in and through him. He’d been daily hiding God’s Word in his heart, practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study and even song, and these carried him through the darkest times. He could face death, because he followed Christ’s example first and foremost.
When I look at the world today, the reality of evil drives many to conceal their faith, to remain in the shadows. This is not the life that Christ demonstrated when facing the hypocrisy and censure of the Pharisees or degradation of the Roman empire. This is not the life that Bonhoeffer showed when the deceptive evil of National Socialism raised its head. They lived, firmly planted on the Word, unashamed to speak the truth and point people to God.
Am I just talking something I’m not living, or am I living and speaking what I know to be true?
I pray that you will join me in walking like Jesus did — Walk it, and talk it!
Grace and Peace
*1 John 2:5b-6