Saturday, June 23, 2007

Words of a Christian Martyr

I just finished watching the 2003 documentary Bonhoeffer. It details the life of German theologian and pacifist Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was hanged by the Nazis in 1945 for his role in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Earlier in my life, when I had flirted with attending seminary to become a Presbyterian minister, I read some of Bonhoeffer's works. His words spoke to me then as much as they speak to me now. And though the inspiration for his steadfast beliefs in peace, love and goodness spring forth from A Christian perspective, I still appreciate the clarity of his call to believers of all faiths and philosophies.

Here are some of his thoughts for you to chew on, pray about, contemplate or meditate on.
  • To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge.
  • The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
  • 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.
  • Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christian should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.
  • 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.
  • Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as ourselves.
  • 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.

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