Bonhoeffer on Following Jesus


Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian martyred by the Nazis at the end of World War II. Though he had the opportunity to flee from the Third Reich, he chose to live among and serve his native people, knowing well what it might cost.

In the context of such a life, the following quote from his The Cost of Discipleship drops like a bombshell on my own typically indolent Christianity:

We have literally no time to sit down and ask ourselves whether so-and-so is our neighbour or not [as the lawyer asks Jesus in Luke 10]. We must get into action and obey—we must behave like a neighbour to him. But perhaps this shocks you. Perhaps you still think you ought to think out beforehand and know what you ought to do. To that there is only one answer. You can only know and think about it by actually doing it. You can only learn what obedience is by obeying. It is no use asking questions; for it is only through obedience that you come to learn the truth.

With our consciences distracted by sin, we are confronted by the call of Jesus to spontaneous obedience (New York: Simon & Schuster, 78. Emphasis added).

O Lord, that I would spontaneously obey you without questioning and without justifying my own inaction and laziness! Wake us your people from our slumber and work your gospel through our obedient mouths, hands, and feet. Thank you, Lord, for being our example, for you were and you are and you always will be proactive in our salvation. Amen.


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