Thursday, June 21, 2007

throwing ourselves into the will of God

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his Letters and Papers from Prison wrote:
I discovered later, and I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith.
This is a quote as is much of Bonhoeffer that is really beyond me, and I find Bonhoeffer's writings something to be grown into, thus reminding me of Scripture itself which in a true sense is ultimate for us in that way, especially as we look at the revelation of God in Jesus found in it.

In the Bonhoeffer film there is the part in which Bonhoeffer's fiancee, whom he was deeply in love with, breaks away from the guards and throws herself into his embrace. This, for Krista Tippett was suggestive of what Bonhoeffer was alluding to and meant in the above quote about throwing one's self into the will of God, as met in all of the experience of life, to seek that will and then seek to live unreservedly in it.

Bonhoeffer is an interesting theologian, who has stimulated much thought and admiration both within and outside of Christianity. I see him as one clearly grounded and committed to finding and living in the will of God in Christ to the end. His Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship are considered classics, and I found both powerful and compelling. I look forward to reading all of his works (I say, by faith).

The above quote, I think means being open to being challenged as to one's paradigm they've arrived to in understanding the will of God. This never leaves Scripture behind, nor does it flout what the Spirit has given to the Church in the understanding of Scripture (as in orthodoxy). But it's open at all times to seeing God's creative hand in Jesus in all of life, in ways that may be missed if the endeavor to find and live out the will of God is like following a formula or a five step venture.

Bonhoeffer believed and practiced much time in Scripture reading and in prayer. He was pressed to find and live in the will of God during the extraordinary times in Germany of the "Third Reich".

Be challenged and edified by looking at Bonhoeffer's life. A great place to start is by downloading this program, then from my perspective I might recommend reading The Cost of Discipleship first, followed by Life Together.

You will find yourself, if you're like me, stretched to the breaking point and beyond. This is good, and the kind of material we'll want to interact with the rest of our lives, as we seek to imbibe and live more and more in the life of Jesus himself by the Spirit and in community, in this world.


L.L. Barkat said...

Sometimes I wonder if extraordinary times make it harder or easier to live the will of God. Maybe it is different for different people?

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., A great question. I think of the truth that God's kindness is meant to lead people to repentance shown in his lavishing goodness on all. Yet it seems also true that when in dire straits some trust God. Yet is that just a self-centered conversion, or really a true conversion, only God knows, of course.

I think it ends up being true that it is different things for different people. I think people finding meaning to life and seeing story should be important, and in doing so there's the old themes of sin and needed repentance and faith in the good news of God's kingdom come in Jesus.

karen said...

Your post reminds me of Rich Mullins, who I think embodied that spirit of true discipleship. I often wonder what Rich's ministry would be today. I was recently in Brentwood, TN., home to acres and acres of church complexes and I wondered, What would Rich think of this? He could have afforded to live in Brentwood, but would he? He chose to live in one the poorest regions of our country (materially speaking) -- the Navajo Nation.

Ted Gossard said...

Karen, Yes. I love Rich Mullins. As I remember he chose to live on the average wage of the state he lived in, which was New Mexico and among the Navajo Nation, as you point out.

Nice connection with Rich here (who by the way was in the same 5th grade my wife, Deb was in. He was quiet and known by them as Richard).