Sunday, September 12, 2010

All or Nothing

"We all know that Christ has, in effect, been eliminated from our lives. Of course, we build him a temple, but we live in our own houses. Christ has become a matter of the church or, rather, of the churchiness of a group, not a matter of life...
However, one thing is clear; we understand Christ only if we commit ourselves to him in a start "Either-Or." He did not go to the cross to ornament and embellish our life. If we wish to have him, then he demands the right to say something decisive about our entire life. We do not understand him if we arrange for him only a small compartment in our spiritual life. Rather, we understand our spiritual life only if we then orientate it to him alone or give him a flat, "No."... The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one's bread; on the contrary, it is bread or it is nothing. People should at least understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian."
A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer- 1928

I've noticed that our culture has quite a strange way of compartmentalizing life. We have a family box, a work box, a church box, a school box. Then we have boxes within those boxes. In the school box we have smaller boxes that contain science, then reading, then math, then "character education" (I can't say "character education without laughing"... are we serious that we made a box for this?!)

Perhaps our ability to isolate areas of our lives, to believe that one won't bleed into the other, is what leads us to the absurd notion that we can have our houses to ourselves and keep Christ in the temple.

If Bonhoeffer's words don't speak definitively and profoundly to the heart, his life should. A professor in Germany, he had multiple chances to keep quiet in his opposition to Hitler and chances to flee the country. He refused both, believing that only if he spoke truth and suffered with his people would he have a leg to stand on when it was time to rebuild Germany and share Christ with a broken country. He was executed after serving time in a concentration camp, shortly before Hitler committed suicide.

Lord, what parts of me beg to stay silent as to not create opposition? What parts of me attempt to flee? Is my expectation for Christ to 'ornament' my life or is He my life?

Jesus is clear to those wanting to follow him, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34). He challenges all to not look back or be held back but to "Follow me".

Perhaps we think "God so loved the world" therefore He must be tolerant of us just taking what we want of Him. He loves us so therefore He must understand us wanting a little piece of everything...surely He knows how hard true surrender is?

Yet if I applied this idea to the weak, human example of my marriage I know it is not true. Do I say "I love S. therefore I'll take what he's willing to give and let him farm out the rest of himself where the wind blows"? Absolutely not. Because I love S. it's all or nothing. He can choose intimacy and exclusivity with me. If he wants to compartmentalize our marriage then he gets none of me. It is not a compliment if he only takes part of the deal; it defiles me and the covenant of marriage.

How much more do I defile Christ and my covenant with Him if I select what I give to Him?
If we wish to have him, then he demands the right to say something decisive about our entire life.

I began this post merely to share the passage I read today. Yet, somehow I ended up tacking on plenty of my own reflections. Enough of that...enjoy the thoughts of Bonhoeffer- a man who lived out his contemplations even to death.

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