Bonhoeffer: A Life Lived to the Glory of God

June 23, 2010

Christian Life, History

Selected Quotes:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a unique individual, called to a unique ministry, during and extraordinary time.

Enemies – a word used often throughout Bonhoeffer’s writings.  I sense that his thoughts linger and recede to the impending conflict and national turmoil of Nazi Germany.  I believe he fervently sought after God’s mind.

“Our enemies are those who harbor hostility against us, not those against whom we cherish hostility… As a Christian I am called to treat my enemy as a brother and to meet hostility with love. My behavior is thus determined not by the way others treat me, but by the treatment I receive from Jesus.”  The Cost of Discipleship


“The believer is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. To be either is illusory. The believer sees reality not in a certain light but as it is, and believes only in God and God’s power towards all and over all that is seen.”  (in No Rusty Swords)


“The followers of Christ have been called to peace. . . . And they must not only have peace but also make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. . . . His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they over-come evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.”  The Cost of Discipleship

The World – Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached about having a light touch on the things around us.  The seriousness of the day and the value of the things of the Lord must have lead to diminished relevance of the material goods or pursuits of the world.

“Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of anxiety.”  The Cost of Discipleship


“There is not a place to which the Christian can withdraw from the world, whether it be outwardly or in the sphere of the inner life. Any attempt to escape from the world must sooner or later be paid for with a sinful surrender to the world.”  Ethics


A Man of Prayer and The Word – Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a faith based on the truth of God’s Word.  His strength, he knew, could only come from and be found in Christ.

“It is not necessary that we should discover new ideas in our meditation. It is sufficient, and far more important, if the Word, as we read and understand it, penetrates and dwells within us.”  Life Together


“You have granted me many blessings; let me also accept what is hard from your hand.” Prayers from Prison


Discipleship and Grace – Bonhoeffer’s writings still reach out to us today.  What concerned him then was the eternal importance of the necessity of divine Grace for extraordinary and everyday life.  And to that end, he was resoundingly emphatic in his plea for the Church to understand the serious way in which God has called us to follow after Him; his speech was rife with warnings.

“Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ…. Discipleship without Jesus Christ is a way of our own choosing. It may be the ideal way, it may even lead to martyrdom, but it is devoid of all promise. Jesus will certainly reject it.” Two excerpts from The Cost of Discipleship


“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” The Cost of Discipleship


“If we would follow Jesus we must take certain definite steps. The first step, which follows the call, cuts the disciple off from his previous existence. … The first step places the disciple in the situation where faith is possible. If he refuses to follow and stays behind, he does not learn how to believe.”  The Cost of Discipleship


“To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only Him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. … All that self-denial can say is: “He leads the way, keep close to Him.”
“…and take up his cross.” … Only when we have become completely oblivious of self are we ready to bear the cross for His sake. If in the end we know only Him, if we have ceased to notice the pain of our own cross, we are indeed looking only unto Him. If Jesus had not so graciously prepared us for this word, we should have found it unbearable.”  The Cost of Discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer solemnly endured the martyrdom by the Gestapo in 1945.  A man of only 39 years, I consider him to be a modern day prophet; a man who has added to our faith and awareness of Christ by the things he said and the life he lived. 

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