Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a renowned German Lutheran pastor, seminary professor, and founding member of the Confessing Church who was imprisoned and ultimately executed by the Nazis for his resistance to Hitler. In his seminal book, Life Together, he has some insightful things to say about being in relationship with others:
“God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image. I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that comes solely from God’s free and sovereign creation. To me the sight may seem strange, even ungodly. But God creates every man in the likeness of His Son, the Crucified. After all, even that image certainly looked strange and ungodly to me before I grasped it.
Strong and weak, wise and foolish, gifted or ungifted, pious or impious, the diverse individuals in the community, are no longer incentives for talking and judging and condemning, and thus excuses for self-justification. They are rather cause for rejoicing in one another. Each member of the community is given his particular place, but this is no longer the place in which he can most successfully assert himself, but the place where he can best perform his service…Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.”
Watch the video below from Barbara Brown Taylor (An author, professor and Episcopal Priest) before answering the questions below.
Answer the following questions:
1. When was the last time you argued/fought your way to be “right?”
2. In light of Philippians 2: 1-11, how important is being “right’?
3. Marty McFly, in the movie Back To The Future, was always triggered to fight in an angry outburst whenever he was called a “chicken”. What are some triggers that cause you to retaliate?
4. What action can you take today to listen and learn from those you dislike/disagree with/are in conflict with?
5. Pray out loud Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Serenity Prayer :
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.