Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life

This Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote comes to me courtesy of my Beliefnet buddy prjp. It is part of a sermon Bonhoeffer preached in conjunction with a baptism. As we live through our own interesting times, it perhaps gains a new relevancy in its new context:

Today you will be baptized a Christian. All those great ancient words of the Christian proclamation will be spoken over you, and the command of Jesus Christ to baptize will be carried out on you, without your knowing anything about it. But we are once again being driven right back to the beginnings of our understanding.Reconciliation and redemption, regeneration and the Holy Spirit, love of our enemies, cross and resurrection, life in Christ and Christian discipleship—all these things are so difficult and so remote that we hardly venture any more to speak of them.In the traditional words and acts we suspect that there may be something quite new and revolutionary, though we cannot as yet grasp or express it. That is our own fault.Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation to the world. Our earlier words are therefore bound to lose their force and cease, and our being Christians today will be limited to two things: prayer and action…We are not yet out of the “melting time” and any attempt to help the church prematurely to a new expansion of its organization will merely delay its conversion and purification.It is not for us to prophesy the day (though the day will come) when people will once more be called so to utter the word of God that the world will be changed and renewed by it. It will be a new language, perhaps quite nonreligious, but liberating and redeeming, as was Jesus’ language…Till then the Christian cause will be a silent and hidden affair, but there will be those who pray and do right and wait for God’s own time. May you be one of them.

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