Lessons from Jesus, Paul… and Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived during the Nazi era of Germany. After moving from Germany to England and then on to New York to finish seminary, he realized that he was being called to return home. When people warned him of certain death for refuting the Nazi regime in Germany, his response was, “I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share in the trials of this time with my people…” he said that he had to will the “defeat of [Germany] in order that Christian civilization may survive” but that he could “not make this choice in security.” So he returned to Germany, refuted the Nazi ideals, and was martyred for it in 1945.
Paul, likewise, was faced with this choice. Acts 21 records how he was told about his impending imprisonment in Jerusalem, and death at the hands of the Gentiles. But his response was purposeful, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul was set to do God’s Will, and it resulted in persecution.
Even still, Christ, for whom we suffer, was in the same place. In the garden before His arrest, He knew of the Father’s plan, and how it would cause Him great pain and separation from God. So he asked if the cup of suffering could be passed from Him, and still accomplish the Will of the Father. He was not trying to get out of saving the world, but was asking if there was another way to do so. When God said no, He (literally) took up His cross, and thus we were saved. So suffering came in His carrying out of the Father’s Will.
So what can be said of these? They did not seek out suffering, suffering found them. They were following the will of God, knowing beforehand the cost of following God, and still went with the plan. I think this has been lost today as people believe that one must first try to suffer, and then in that find God’s plan for life. Clearly this is not what God intended.