“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This Summer, the BCEC is going to be preaching through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together. Alexander Chow started our summer series, with a short reflection on Bonhoeffer’s life. And as he launched into his sermon, pondering what’s it like to preach on a book that’s not “the Bible,” he reminded us of the history of God’s relationship with man that has unfolded from the beginning of time. We are not the first believers of Christ, nor shall we be the last. But in this modern day and age, we are lulled into thinking that life revolves around us – here and now.
There’s a trend in the modern world that seems to look back at history with either romanticised allure, or prideful disdain. The past was either the “good ol’ days” or else it was “how did we ever survive back then.” But as we reflect on our history with Christ – we are reminded of Hebrews 11, as the author remembers the champions of faith,
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
It is humbling to remember that life with Christ transcends space and time. That God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That the relationship that we share with Him today, is a relationship shared with others in the past. And the life and communion that we share with our brothers and sisters today, was shared with followers of Jesus before.
But it is also challenging to remember life with Christ. We are reminded that we are called forth into battle. To stand for Christ. To dine with our King. To live for Him. When we are too consumed with the immediate, we lose sight that we have a greater calling. That our temporal life, reflects the glory of God.
Eternity places our current time into perspective.
We are then reminded, that as Bonhoeffer wrote from his reflections with God, that “The church exists so that we can live outside of it.” The church, the body of Christ, exists to empower, encourage, and inspire us to love God and love our neighbour all the more.
Coincidentally, Christianity Today has an article about Dietrich Bonhoeffer titledThe Authentich Bonhoeffer. Fascinating interview with Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.