Sunday, March 26, 2006

"The Church is the Church only when it exists for others" -- Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor during WWII; he was arrested for plotting against Hitler and was a writer while in prison. He was hung a few weeks before the end of the war. I have a book which is a collection of letters Bonhoeffer wrote. On Page 382 of Letters & Papers from Prison, he says in part "The church is the church only when it exists for others."

I was invited to a men's Bible study this week; we were studying the book of Titus. A question came up about "what are good works?" People made many suggestions. Two really hung with me: We should smile at other people and we should wave to them. That is good. We need to do that to fellow believers and for all the other people that don't know Christ. We want to be friendly with the neighborhood drunk, smile and wave at him but we don't want him to "puke" on our couch! We don't want to be disturbed with the 11:00 p.m. call from his wife, saying "come and help me get him in to the house he passed out on the lawn."

I don't think we believe the church exists for others. We believe it exists for us, and we are going to smile and wave until the drunk feels so good he just might come through the doors of our church and hopefully, with all our back slapping and firendly smiles, come to know Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 10:23 "A man's life is not his own." Do we believe that? Jesus said in part in John 13:12-17 "Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you." James said "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26). Works don't save us but a result of our love for a gracious God who has "given us life and breath and everything else." Acts 17:25

Isn't it time we give up living for ourselves and live for others? "No greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend." John 15:12-17. What if Jesus had just waved and smiled at us?

Thank you Lord for another reminder.

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