If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, if we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regrading the cross as an everyday ordinary calamity, like one of the trials and tribulations of life. We have then forgotten that the cross means rejection and shame as well as suffering. The psalmist was lamenting that he was despised and rejected of men, and that is an essential quality of the suffering of the cross. But this notion has ceased to be intelligible to a Christianity which can no longer see any difference between an ordinary human life and a life committed to Christ. The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross.The victory in my Christian life ultimately comes down to my view of the cross. It's that simple, and yet a principle that I so often brush aside as "heard it, got it, let's move on". And yet the reality is that I can't get on with my life as long as I push aside this important principle.
The last year Bobby has also been reading through a book detailing the historical timeline of Hitler's regime. Tonight at supper we compared notes, both astounded at how silent and complacent the church was, thus enabling Hitler to rise and flourish in power. Some of Bonhoeffer's writings could easily have been written to the church in America today.
One other quote from the biographer (the context is detailing Bonhoeffer's concern that the Nazi's demanded the church ignore the Old Testament because of its Jewish ties): "The Old Testament, which could not easily be separated from the message of the New Testament, was all about living by faith in this world. It was not about holding on until another world appeared. And if someone was required to live by faith here, he would not be irresponsible about what happened here...To retreat from life...was to retreat from a full, biblical vision of who God was."
to live by faith IN this world...isn't that our struggle still today? As a teenager it drove me crazy that all the old people in my church only seemed interested in the hereafter. I wanted a religion that made a difference in the here and now, not the hereafter. And yet today, I hesitate to witness for fear of shoving my beliefs on others, or don't call someone because listening to them would tie up too much time in an already busy day, so how is my faith being lived out today in this present world? The sad answer is that my focus at those times comes off the cross and onto me. I'm minimizing the cross and its impact on my life when I remove it from front and center of my life.
Now, if the next sermon I hear or book I read addresses this same topic, then my Mom would tell me I need to quit being so hard headed and actually apply what God is trying to tell me. It's still the cross.