Whenever I’m preaching on a text in the Sermon on the Mount, I always reach for 2 books: Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy & Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. [Both are absolute MUST READS]
In getting ready for this weekends message on anger, I’m looking at Matthew 5:20-22 among some other passages, so I’ve been re-reading these giants this week. I go other places for technical help with Greek grammar, historical context etc (not that they lack, that’s just not the point). But their depth of insight is staggering; it weakens the knees.
But the reason for this post is to talk about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I always read him with a lump in my throat. He is truly brilliant. Not in the flippant way that we throw that word around. His writings have the kind of weight that only a few books have. They have the weight of a brilliant man who is living out what he is writing, the weight of a man who returned to Germany when it was most dangerous to witness for Christ, who insisted on faithfulness to Jesus in the face of the monstrous evil of the Third Reich. Had he lived, he would have had the kind of influence in the world of Theology that a Karl Barth had (don’t worry if that doesn’t mean anything to you).
He was hanged in a concentration camp in Flossenburge by special order of Himmler on April 9th, 1945, just days before the camp was liberated by the Allies.
His last words as he walked to the gallows were these:
This is the end, for me the beginning of life.
I am grateful for the companionship of this book & through it this man. I am moved in thinking about him to pray again this week for the persecuted Church.
“I remember Lord!” Hebrews 13:3