Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Reflections on Bonhoeffer’s Life Together – 69

“It is not necessary for us to find new ideas in our meditation. Often this only distracts us and satisfies our vanity.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Fortress Press, 2015 (Reader’s Edition), page 61.

To encounter Jesus in His Word is, I hope, enough; it is, I hope, satisfying. To receive Him as He comes to us in His Word is, I hope, all that we could ever want as we meditate in His Word. It is one thing to seek “new ideas”, it is another thing to seek Jesus. Yes, there are treasures in His Word, but all of these treasures are found in Him (Colossians 2:3).

Originality should never be our goal, we should but humbly seek Jesus. Originality should not impress us nor cause us to glory in ourselves or others; our only glory should be in Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:26ff). Novelty appeals to our pride and vanity, the Cross of Christ keeps us centered on the Christ of the Cross.

“…so as we meditate God’s Word desires to enter in and stay with us. It desires to move us, to work in us, and to make such an impression on us that the whole day long we will not get away from it. Then it will do its work in us, often without our being aware of it (pages 61 – 62).

Peter writes that we are “born again not of seed with is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). When we submit to the Word, when we meditate on the Word, this living Word lives and works within us, it animates our hearts and minds and souls and bodies. The Word becomes the air that we breathe, just as we are seldom conscious of inhaling and exhaling and yet our body does the work of breathing, so the Word does a work within us of which we are often unconscious – we cannot see the seed we plant taking root, we often cannot see the deep inner work of the Word of God prior to fruition.

When we plant seed in a garden we expect it to take root and grow. We prepare the soil; hopefully we prepare our hearts. We can expect God’s Word to grow within us as we receive it, we can expect to be transformed into the image of His Beloved Son. However, it is not for us to measure our growth or to admire it or to focus on it – our perspectives cannot help but be self-conscious and self-centered, we must trust our heavenly Gardener to tend the trees of His orchard. Bonhoeffer warns against being entangled “ever more deeply in the net of introspection” (page 62). We meditate on the Word, we do not meditate on ourselves.

As we till the soil of the Word, and as the Word tills the soil of our lives, the Holy Spirit will bring forth fruit that we can share with those around us, and the leaves of our lives in Christ will be for the healing of the nations.

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