(Bonhoeffer's view of a life among enemies was formed in the Nazi Germany of the 1930s, a situation that was becoming increasingly hostile to Christians.)
The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. In the end all his disciples abandoned him. On the cross he was all alone, surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God. Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work.
"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Mathew 10:16
Questions to Ponder
How would you define the "enemies" Christians are to live "in the midst of"?
What is the "mission" or "work" of Christians toward these "enemies"?
Jesus said: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke 6:27-28). Does this fit with the reading from Bonhoeffer for today? How, or how not?
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long. Psalm 23:5-6
As a Christian, do you find yourself living "in the midst of enemies"? How, or how not? If so, who are they? How do you feel about them?
What do you understand to be your personal mission or work in the midst of these enemies?
Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, give me the faith, the courage, and the love to live faithfully in the midst of enemies as you did.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.