Monday, September 10, 2012

what I'm reading: Bonhoeffer

My calling is quite clear to me. What God will make of it I do not know...I must follow the path. Perhaps it will not be such a long one. (Phil 1:23). But it is a fine thing to have realized my calling...I believe its nobility will become plain to us in coming times and events. If only we can hold out. (123)
I've just read Bonhoeffer, a biography by Eric Metaxas. All I knew about Bonhoeffer before was that he wrote The cost of discipleship and was martyred under the Nazi regime. This book is a fascinating read. Not easy - I took a break to dip into a light novel - but good, like a hearty meal, filling and nourishing and life-giving.

I was inspired to read more biography by my friend Jenny after we both read Tony Reinke's Lit!. I started with Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, which I highly recommend, then moved on to Bonhoeffer; next, I want to read Eric Metaxas' biography of William Wilberforce, Amazing Grace. Mostly, I have to admit, I don't love reading Christian biographies - they leave me feeling inadequate - but this one informed and encouraged me.

Bonhoeffer is the kind of book that falls into your life like a (rather large) stone: I can picture ripples spreading out from it through my life for years to come. It challenged me to live more whole-heartedly for Jesus; to get more involved in the world, both in enjoying its blessings and engaging with those who suffer; and to face persecution and opposition with courage and purpose.

Above all, Bonhoeffer doesn't let us get away with playing with God's word. He said to a friend, "when you read the Bible, you must think that here and now God is speaking with me" (128). The Sermon on the Mount  gave him his "calling" and showed him what it might cost. Ultimately, it would lead him to his death. He said,
Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God’s Word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. (261)
It's a risky business opening the Bible. Who knows where reading God's word might take us?

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