Relationship, Not Religion

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is on my mind.

Reluctantly I had to address the issue of evil with my daughter after the news of bin  Laden’s assassination. It was my comparison of bin Laden to Hitler that had her quickly comprehend why a country would condone killing someone. (The discussion of evil is not something I like to bring up with her or anyone. At a tender age she was incensed that I had not told her about the devil after some neighborhood kids did. I explained, “if you were enjoying a beautiful day on the playground with 30 kids and 29 of them are laughing, playing and enjoying themselves, and the one kid over on the side is throwing stones and saying awful things to the 29 happy kids, would you want to go near that child? Would your Mom want you to pay any attention to or play with that one? The devil is like that one trying to spoil all the happiness and joy of everyone else.”)

On the radio this morning, I heard part of an interview with Eric Metaxes, co-author of a book published a year ago, “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.” Metaxes explained that Bonhoeffer, due to his deep personal relationship with Christ was able to push religious resistance to Nazism. The German church was silent, but not Bonhoeffer. He died in his attempt to assasinate Hitler, but his convictions and courage continue to inspire Christians to follow Christ’s individual callings to each of us.

The body of Christ, the church, is important in so many ways — if it works with the spirit (borrowed from the mission statement of the church I attend)–of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In our corner of Virginia, this vital and growing church helps the poor and needy and hurting not only in our community, but in other parts of the world. But what is essential to each believer — whether or not one is a member of a church — is a personal relationship with Christ. Spending time in his word. Prayer. Following the still, small voice that shows us where to go and what to do — if we are quiet and humble and courageous enough to listen and act. Our challenges may not be as famous as Bonhoeffer’s, but they are important and wherever He leads us, He will give us the strength to continue.

As Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him enduring the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Blessings and kind regards to you all.


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