Let It Be Said of Us

There she stands in ragged clothes and pleads for money. People pass her by. People ridicule and mock her for living on the streets. Very few passers by asked her about her story. They simply walked away in scorn. But you see, everyone has a story.

She was a single mother and victim of domestic abuse. She only wanted enough money to feed her children and pay for a cheap hotel room. She just wanted to get by. She just wanted to make it through another day. After she became the victim of domestic violence she became homeless. She reached out to her church and asked for help and didn’t get any. She reached out to her family as well but they responded similarly to the church.

Her life was characterized by brokenness. She just needed some help. She needed Christ to set her free from the chains of abuse, prostitution, and fear. Her story is real and must not be ignored.

My room mate and I met her outside our local Wal-Mart. We were simply returning a Red Box when God put her in our path. My room mate obeyed the Holy Spirit and began engaging S. in conversation and ministry. God appointed this encounter for sure. She was at her wits end and we were able to be messengers of grace.

She still needs your prayer. She needs your support. She needs your love. Most of all, she needs to see Christ in you.

Helpless people are all around us. It can be easy for us to look on the least of these with scorn because of our perception of them. Let it not be said that Christians do not genuinely love others. Let it not be said of us that we ignore God’s leading to help others.

Helping others requires action, not merely words. She had been attending a mega church in the city since 2008. When she tried to get out of her domestic violence situation she became homeless. She asked the church for help but was given none. My heart breaks for a church whose congregants can’t meet with the pastor because he’s too booked up. My heart breaks for a church who fails to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Let it be said of us as believers that we love others just as Christ loved us. (Mark 10:45, John 3:17) Let it be said of us that Christ shines through us.  Steve Fry has articulated this well in his song, “Let it be said of us”.

Let it be said of us
We were marked by forgiveness
We were known by our love
And delighted in meekness
We were ruled by his peace
Heeding unity’s call
Joined as one body
That Christ would be seen by all

Fellow Christians, it is our duty to reflect Christ to a broken world. Let us come before His throne pleading for mercy. Brothers and sisters let your light shine so others will see Jesus and glorify the father.

Following Bonhoeffer’s Example of Genuine Love

Recently I began reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.[1] Thus far my reading has proven beneficial. As I read over the next few weeks I hope to share a few gleanings with you. Today’s post concerns the issue of genuine love, which was one of Bonhoeffer’s greatest characteristics during his stay in Berlin. It was because of his love for Christ and people that Bonhoeffer had an effective ministry.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Brief Overview

On February 4, 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born the fourth and youngest son to Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. Dietrich was born only ten minutes before his twin sister, Sabine, who he would be closest to. His father, Karl, held the chair in psychiatry and neurology at the university in Breslau.[2] One of his earliest recorded theological musings occurred when Dietrich was about four years old. He asked his mother, “Does the good God love the chimney sweep too?” and “Does God, too, sit down to lunch?”[3] The Bonhoeffer’s adhered to a homegrown form of Christianity with little church attendance, but daily life was filled with Bible reading and hymn singing. Paula and Karl taught their children Biblical values that would have a lasting impact.[4]

Dietrich’s upbringing would certainly come to have a lasting impact on his life. During Hitler’s rise to power Dietrich would serve as a pastor and spy and would eventually worked to dismantle the Third Reich from the inside. Metaxas wonderfully articulates Bonhoeffer’s life as a pastor, martyr, prophet, and spy. For more on Bonhoeffer, see Metaxas’ book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can purchase it here or here.

Loving people: Bonhoeffer’s example for us

Metaxas recounts of Bonhoeffer’s remarkable ability to connect with people in difficult circumstances, especially those in his confirmation class in Wedding, a notoriously tough neighborhood north of Berlin.[5] Dietrich was given this assignment shortly after his ordination in 1931. The Superintendent desperately needed help with a class of 50 boys. Bonhoeffer answered the call to come help. These children had significant difficulties with discipline, but Dietrich simply told them stories from the Bible, particularly the eschatological passages.[6] That is the situation Dietrich willingly submitted himself to.

As I read the following quote the other day I was immensely challenged.

“At the end of each evening I read something out of the Bible and after that a little catechizing, which often grows very serious. The experience of teaching them has been such that I can hardly tear myself away from it.”[7]

How is it that Dietrich was able to teach these often rebellious students? How could he say, “I can hardly tear myself away from it?”

By this point in Dietrich’s life he had developed a radical love for God and neighbor. His commitment to these students challenges me greatly. I want to have a heart like this for people and for the ministry of the word. I think Dietrich Bonhoeffer exemplifies Christ’s Gospel in a unique way.

What exactly was Christ’s gospel?

[34]  But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. [35]  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, [36]  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” [37]  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ [38]  This is the first and great commandment. [39]  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ [40]  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40, NKJV

In scripture we are given both the indicative and the imperative. The indicative is that God loves us because He sent His son to die for us. He gives us His righteousness. We are redeemed by grace through faith. This is the indicative. The imperative of the Gospel is that we should love God and our neighbor. It’s one thing for us to agree that we should love one another, but something entirely different to practice it.

May our hearts and minds be challenged to love people as Bonhoeffer did. We have to see others as image bearers. Some image bearers may not have been born again, but if we love people with authenticity, following Bonhoeffer’s example, we will make a difference for Christ.

 

[1] Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010).

[2] Ibid, 8.

[3] Ibid, 11.

[4] Ibid, 12.

[5] Ibid, 130.

[6] Ibid, 131-132.

[7] Ibid, 133. Dietrich wrote this in a letter to his friend Erwin Sutz, whom he met when he visited New York.