Friday, December 07, 2007

Reading Bonhoeffer Again

"When God was merciful, when He revealed Jesus Christ to us as our Brother, when He won our hearts by His love, this was the beginning of our instruction in divine love. When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren. When we received forgiveness instead of judgment, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren." (Life Together, 24f)

Just starting my annual rereading of Bonhoeffer's best book (my humble but accurate opinion). The phrase that struck me here was "the beginning of our instruction in divine love."

I have been "in Christ" for 34 years and I still feel like I am just beginning my instruction in "divine love." Worse, most of the time I think I am regressing. So is Bonhoeffer right? Do we become followers of Christ and become merciful and forgiving of the brethren? How?

I think Bonhoeffer's answer is hinted at in the phrase "He won our hearts by His love." Our ability to love, and forgive, and be merciful to our brothers and sisters in Christ is centered not in them behaving better or less hurtful, but in a deeper meditation on the greatness of His love displayed to us in the sacrifice of Christ.
"Help me Lord, to know your love not just intellectually but in the deepest and life transforming recesses of my soul. Help me to offer mercy when my emotions want judgment, to give forgiveness when I want to punish, to offer the warmth of love rather the cold shoulder of hostility. Make me a lover Lord. Make me to live passionately for and like You."


Anonymous said...

(I don't know if my last two comments got in or not, so I am posting again. )
I struggle with that too. I think it is hard for us to forgive because we are afraid that the person we are supposed to forgive will hurt us again....and we don't want to experience that pain again. However, I have found that we have to let God take our hurts and not be afraid of the other person hurting us and realizing we never have to face the hurt alone if we do get hurt again.

Anonymous said...

In our infancy we regard our parents with deep, unwavering love. As we grow, we seek to define ourselves, rally for independence, take on directions that perhaps are not in our best interest. But in the end, more often than not, we regard our parents for the incredible love they have shown us over the years. So too is the love of our Father. There is so much we must learn in this life. It is only through his love, acceptance, understanding and forgiveness that we become who we are, and who he wishes us to be.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I'm personally betting on Phil 2:12,13 - since I'm clearly a failure in my own strength on really willing and doing...

Here's a blog link that you will enjoy - more Bonhoeffer a post ago - and a picture of someone you may recognize!