Friday, April 9, 2010


Many months ago my pastor mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his message during church. He mentioned who Bonhoeffer was, what he did and how he did not take the comfortable road. He could have; he was a German who was in the United States of America during a part of the war, yet felt convinced that he could not remain in safety while his fellow kinsmen were enduring such turmoil and suffering..... and even death.

So he returned to Germany, eventually was arrested and imprisoned. I knew the outline of this story of Bonhoeffer; ironically I had read a brief account of it just a week prior to my pastor's sermon. I believe my pastor quoted this from Bonhoeffer:

"I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people... Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security."

I was waiting for my Pastor to reveal the cost of Bonhoeffer's decision; that it wasn't a wonderful, happily-ever-after story that we Christians love to take comfort in: Trust God and he will protect you."

My pastor, to my recollection, never stated what happened to Bonhoeffer. He left it with that quote and it baffled me, because Bonhoeffer's decision came with a huge price.

I remember thinking that I thought Bonhoeffer was "of more use" safely in America where he was teaching others, where he was writing and sharing his brilliant mind and thoughts.

Yet he did not think of it that way. He had to go back to Germany.

The saddest part to me is that a mere three weeks after Bonhoeffer was stripped naked and hanged to death in a concentration camp, Hitler committed suicide. Three months later the war would effectually be over in Germany.

A part of me still views it an senseless.

Which is the reason I'm still very much fascinated by Bonhoeffer's story and desire to read a more in depth account of his life. The most recent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was just released by Thomas Nelson this month. It is a nearly 600 page book by Eric Metaxas simply called, Bonhoeffer: A Biography. I do hope I can gain more insight and appreciation of Bonhoeffer.

I'm writing this to post on April 9th because it is 65 years ago that Bonhoeffer was killed by hanging; a brutal death. It is my hope that I remember his life and conviction of not choosing to make a decision based on security; even though that decision cost him his life. I think so often as Christians we feel almost like if we are doing the right things for God then he will bless us. I have no doubt that He will bless us but I often wonder if our idea of blessing and His are the same.

1 comment:

  1. I am guessing you are right in your final statement...His idea of blessing is so different from ours. Perhaps as we get closer to God, better connected our perspective changes to follow His.