12 November 2014

Dietrich Bonhoffer - a few profound quotes on living in community

The writings of Dietrich Bonhoffer (1906-1945) on Christianity's role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book, The Cost of Discipleship, is considered a modern classic.

Bonhoffer was a German Lutheran pastor, a theologian, and an anti-Nazi dissident.

The following collection of quotes are from his book, Life Together; The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community.

I find each of the quotes to be quite profound. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read them and digest their truths slowly.

“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared.' (Martin Luther)"

“If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. ... How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?” 

“There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person. This is no fulfillment of our obligation, and it is certain that here too our attitude toward our brother only reflects our relationship to God. It is little wonder that we are no longer capable of the greatest service of listening that God has committed to us, that of hearing our brother's confession, if we refuse to give ear to our brother on lesser subjects... The ministry of listening has been committed to us by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work we should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.”

“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word, but also lends us God’s ear. We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to ‘offer’ something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service…Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either.” 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I especially love the last two on listening to others. 

Please leave me a comment and let me know which one you like the best.

1 comment:

Nancy Smith said...

I especially liked the last two comments about listening-they really spoke to my heart!