If you happen to follow me on Twitter, (@channitak) you might have noticed something I tweeted a few days ago concerning some of the gifts I had received for Christmas. For all you #twitterless out there, the tweet read:
"I now have enough Bonhoeffer to read for the next few years #awesome"
Well I might have embellished a little when I typed that out because I am already almost finished with one of the books I have received. Over the past few days I have had a lot of time to relax, read, drink coffee, and do other things of that nature. The first book that I have chosen to read out of the few I was given is Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together.
I picked this one first because I was kind of in a literary lull and it's a little over one-hundred pages so I thought I would be able to knock it out pretty quick. The book has met my expectations in the pace with which I am reading, but it is also completely wrecking and rocking me both spiritually and theologically.
If you've never taken the time to read any Bonhoeffer, I would strongly encourage you to do so as he is a very interesting and passionate author. His biography is pretty staggering (700+ pages) but well worth the read. Many of Bonhoeffer's books can be read as devotionals and provide a lot of insightful and convicting arguments and approaches to how we should do Christianity. This is very much so the case with Life Together.
While I was reading about an hour ago, I came across a couple lines that completely dropped me. The quote reads:
"Who can really be faithful in great things if he has not learned to be faithful in the things of daily life?"
I had to take a few times to read through it to fully understand and comprehend what Bonhoeffer was intending to say. I advise you do the same.
We spend so much time in prayer, quiet times, and conversations with mentors about the largest problems of our lives. We earnestly call out to God, "Lord, what do You want me to do with my life?" or "Where do You want me to live so I can best serve You?" and increasingly more important, "God, who do You want me to spend my life with?"
While these questions are of course very important and should be dealt with consistently in prayer, is it truly right to isolate their answers as the keys to our happiness and fulfillment? Is it right to assume that once we know what we're supposed to do, where we're supposed to do it, and with whom we are to do it with, that our lives as people will only then have any meaning or purpose? That we do not possess worth or value while those questions remain unanswered? I find that hard to believe, let alone accept as truth. But that is what this world wants us to believe.
In looking at Bonhoeffer's quote I couldn't help but think of Christ when he was speaking on faith in Matthew 17. After the disciples were unable to cast out a demon from a boy, Jesus spoke on the lack of faith in both the crowd and His disciples.
Matthew 17:17-20 reads:
"And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.”And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
How comparable are we to the unbelieving crowds and the faithless disciples? Do we possess the faith to move mountains? Or do shudder at the thought of lifting a piece of gravel?
When I read through a few pages of Life Together tonight, I began to think of how wrongly I have misused my time with God, focusing on the things that really aren't that important. I know that we all move at different speeds and our lives are in different seasons, but when was the last time you really just sat in your quiet time and didn't pray for guidance, or even answers? When was the last time you just thanked God for all that He is doing in your life? The people He has given to you? The blessings you have received from His hand?
I know for me personally it has been quite a long time since I've last done that. I have gone to God countless times trying to figure out my direction, my location, and my company but scarcely have taken the time to thank Him for even providing the breath in my lungs to sustain the spirit that prays to Him. How wretched can we possibly be to ask for a direction but not recognize the Director that guides all paths? How wretched can we possibly be to seek comfort in creation but not thank the Creator for all that He has made? How wretched can we possibly be to become so obsessed with boyfriends, girlfriends, best-friends, and acquaintances while shutting out the Ultimate Satisfaction, the One true Best Friend? I feel sick thinking about the time I have wasted so infatuated and consumed by the seemingly important questions of our lives.
Why are we not concerned with whether we have read God's Word today? Or whether we have prayed for a friend that does not know the Lord? Why are we not upset when we miss church? Or when we choose to spend time wastefully when we had first set it aside for God?
There is a time to enjoy life and all that God has given us, that much is true. But there should be even more time to thank Him for all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. What this looks like may be different for everyone, but it involves talking with Him (prayer), listening to Him (through the Word), and praising Him (worship).
There is no formula and there is no one-size-fits-all method. But we have a God, who is rightly to be praised, let us now praise and glorify Him.