Come and Die

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian and one of the last to die under a direct order from Adolph Hitler was known for a theology of realism that puts the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the midst of the world’s most horrific and painful events. In his toughest book, the Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer asserted that “when God calls a man – he bids him come and die.” There is no cheap grace in Bonhoeffer and there is always a stark reminder that discipleship is costly and yet, brings the individual his/her greatest peace and joy.

The call to “come and die” is not an invitation accepted by the faint of heart. Rather, “come and die” is a challenge to actually begin living life with abandonment and with a focus that brings peace, reconciliation, justice and the confidence of redemption. Most of us live in a world that struggles to give life to our actions, dreams and relationships. We will do almost anything to resuscitate our dreams, our actions and the creations of our minds and hearts. We hold on to our ideas and the material things of this world in a way that suggests that we always live in fear of losing them. Come and die is the antithesis of holding on. It is letting loose and surrendering to a life of passion, compassion, love and grace.

When confronted with a human defeat, a broken relationship or my ego seems to crumble before the talents and skills of a brighter mind or more capable human being or I seek to hold on to the comfortable world I have created for myself – the call to come and die liberates me from the need to win at the cost of another or worse – at all costs. In the Cable News world of our generation, commentators and pundits will do anything to win. They advocate for policies and vilify their opponents. I am struck recently that people of faith seem to rally around these frightened demagogues thinking they can capacitate us in our efforts to hold on to ideas and things that have come to define our lives.

Come and die says let loose of these intellectual and material entanglements and embrace the abandonment of living outside of yourself and live fully inside the one who envelops, defines and restores all things to a life of peace, justice and forgiveness. This is the way of a Seeker.

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One comment on “Come and Die

  1. Amarie Russell says:

    I’m not sure if the church wants to really hear what Bonhoeffer said, or even what Jesus said,”take up your cross…” I believe the church in America wants things “neat and tidy”. They want people to change their behavior, believe like we do then they can belong to us! Instead, people need to feel that they belong,as they are not what we think they OUGHT to become!Then they’ll believe and lastly their behavior may change…or may not. Being a christian doesn’t look anything like it used to and the church in America doesn’t want to “get it” or “chooses” not to get it! Watch kids hand sandwiches to hungry, homeless people, see the teams of workers, prepare and serve hotmeals to the working poor or impoverished…that’s the church as Jesus said,”take up your cross…” When will we “get it”? When will the church figure out that life isn’t “neat and tidy”? It’s messy and chaotic and out of our control. The mandate to “love the Lord God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” is that “taking up your cross” mandate. The church just won’t “get it” and pastoring in this “climate” has never been harder.

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