Prayer, resistance and faith- when faith becomes visible. Walking in the Word Part 2.
Updated: Jun 18
"Tear the mantle of indifference that you have wrapped around your heart!" "I cannot comprehend that now people are constantly being put in danger of their lives by other people. I can never understand it and I find it appalling. Don't say it's for the fatherland." (Sophie Scholl)
"Jesus does not call for a new religion, but for life." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
"31 But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory, 32 and all the nations will be gathered before him. And he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right: Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I have been hungry and you have given me food. I have been thirsty and you have given me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. 36 I was naked and you clothed me. I have been sick and you have visited me. I have been in prison and you have come to me. 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? Or thirsty, and have given thee drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in? Or naked and clothed you? 39 When saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I have been hungry and you have not given me food. I have been thirsty and you have not given me drink. 43 I have been a stranger and you have not taken me in. I have been naked and you have not clothed me. I have been sick and in prison, and you have not visited me. 44 Then they also will answer and say, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not serve you? 45 Then he will answer them and say, Verily I say unto you: Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto one of the least of these, ye have not done it unto me. 46 And they will go away: these to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:31 ff)
My dear friends, dear women of God,
For what do we live? For what ideals, for what truth? For whom do we live?
What is our inner truth? Our inner aspiration? Who is our Christ?
The one who only wants us to be well, just like all the positive thinking calendar slogans want us to be well?
A few months ago I came across a meme that had a sympathetic and affirming message. It was about self-love, about joy and flower meadow warmth. I looked in the comments and manfully I read "Amen.", as well as "Hallelujah- Amen".
It was the site of a New Age couch that taught positive thinking, the Law of Attraction, and all sorts of other self-care. "Hallelujah. Amen."
A few months ago, on 07/13/2022 Beni Johnson passed away after a long terminal cancer. Bill Johnson visibly struggled with himself, with his shock, grief and the defiant hold on to this destruction of his own faith approach that "Jesus always heals" like a drowning man, someone who will not face the facts of having been proven wrong where it hurt the most. But...he also bowed and confessed the Lordship of Jesus publicly. He rejected to lose Jesus in last instance. That made me bow.
"God only wants us to be well." Quite a while ago, a mature Christian woman whom I really appreciate wrote this sentence to me. But the half-truth in that sentence pulled the rug out from under me.
Yes. God wants us to be well, that's what His Son died for. Yes, God wants to restore us, that's one of the things He promised in Isaiah 35. Yes, we live in the New Covenant, Paul confirmed that many times with reference to Ezekiel 36:26. But this is not about a comfortable feel-good life here.
Most of the inner conflicts we humans suffer are conflicts with our beliefs.
My father resignedly said to me at one point that you come to terms. You lose your wildness, your dreams, and you just adapt to the circumstances. You adapt to the world. You no longer stand up as you did when you were 18 when you see injustice. You no longer reproach anyone. You no longer speak truth confrontationally. We submit to the etiquette of whitewashing, hypocrisy, and peace. Under the surface, however, it is bubbling. We know when we are being hypocritical. We know when we suppress our convictions, our sense of justice, our "heart" as the Bible calls it.
The most fatal misinterpretation of modern Christianity today is the concept of heart, which is equated with emotion. But this is far too short-sighted, though not necessarily false:
The Hebrew term "Leb" used in Proverbs 4:23 encompasses the inner man. It is your inner attitude, not your feeling nor your mind. It is your interests, your beliefs, your imprints. It is your feeling, your musings, your values and morals. It is your personality. Nothing is excluded from the concept of life: Not your political opinion, not your actions, not your relationships, not your thoughts, not your seriousness, not your joy of life as well as your personal experiences. An inner attitude is perhaps best translated as all that makes up your being and shapes your character. It has very little to do with clouds of hearts, dancing on the flower meadow and romance - it is your essence that expresses itself outwardly in your deeds, actions, words and life.
I have asked myself which people have witnessed to me such an inner Christian attitude in such a way that they fill both Christians and non-Christians with a respect to this day that reflects this attitude of heart. Where we do not fall into the "Yes, but!" but more into the: "Worthy as Stephen at his stoning!" "Convincing like Peter after being delivered by an angel". Are there people who have reflected the Holy Spirit, who have reflected Christ in modern times as much as these apostles who seem so distant?
Yes, there were. There will always be there. They are the ones who embraced and lived their lives, guarding their hearts above all else and placing Jesus above any worldly authority.
This morning I saw a documentary about a watchmaker from Haarlem, Netherlands. A watchmaker whose family was known for their love for one another. For their cheerful interaction with Jews. For their warmth and affection- and for their Christian faith. For their care for those who had no place in society, their generous sharing of home and hearth, of heart and mind, practically, directly, under deprivation, which became their joy.
The watchmaker- she was not charismatic, Pentecostal, Baptist, contemplative nor Mosaic. She was, by the standards set today, "not decently born again, but ONLY nominal Christian." She was lutheran-reformed.
So if the Pentecostal extremes were to be believed, she could not even know the Holy Spirit. No C.P.Wagner ever anointed her a prophetess, no Bill Johnson trained her. Without confessional baptism she was therefore not even saved nor added to the church.
We are talking about the most quoted Christian author and survivor of the Nazi era ever- a heroine of the faith, a woman who accomplished amazing things when she forgave her traitor and met him with a love that led him to God on death row. We are talking about Corrie ten Boom.
The second, who became a symbol of Christian resistance of German Nationalsocialism - a national hero as well as an example of faith that makes brothers and sisters in the faith internationally take off their hats - was never anything other than a Lutheran, a conservative protestantic churchman, confirmed and with a Luther Bible that belonged to his brother before: Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Let's be honest: If one needs some fried potatoes with bacon after all the declaring and proclaiming sweet talk, then one reads Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis or Corrie ten Boom. Then you go back to the source to take a breath and finally find some truth, like you find in Bach, like you find in old Christian hymns, like you find in the Bible.
The difference these people made, it was faith lived. It was a faith that had tangible consequences. Bonhoeffer did not expect God to spare him nor that he "just wanted him to be all right." He did not rest on being "saved by grace alone," but he returned to Germany at the beginning of the Nazi era, from the safety of America, to give comfort in those times- to the point of open resistance.
Corrie ten Boom would certainly have done better, as part of self-care, to refrain from hiding Jews, organizing food stamps, and putting her life on the line for others.
Sophie Scholl would have done better in relation to selfcare to swallow her anger and outrage and hope that the war would take care of itself, instead of following her inner conviction and throwing leaflets into the university auditorium.
"We will not bow down!" is the message they shouted out, the one they deployed, the one they followed like Daniel and his companions in the face of the furnace of fire.
Someone once said to me, "Christians, they live like maggots in bacon, picking on each other and killing each other. They twist and argue and chafe over nothingness, out of spiritual boredom. But when you see tribulation coming, persecution, then you can know true greatness, then you know whose heart belongs undivided to God."
Perhaps we Christians need these experiences. Perhaps the work of the Holy Spirit is only strikingly evident where people are faced with decisions to live or betray their inner convictions.
We are all called to do this- but there are only a few who, as Christians, embrace their true maturity on earth. By committing themselves. By living what they believe in. By not philosophizing, escaping from the world and claiming power, but by serving one another and the world in all tribulation. Because Jesus would have done it too. Because he commanded it.
Your heart, which you should guard with all diligence, it is your inner attitude, attitude and imprint. Let it be straight before your God. For life flows from him. May you prosper in the life and peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, and may you know the power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Can you acknowledge fleas and lice as a gift from God in a barracks with 200 captive women?
Corrie ten Boom did.
It was those fleas and lice that kept the guards out of the barracks, and made it possible to bring a little heaven into hell-twice a day.
She had no Christian coffee cup, no warm, cozy seminary environment, no app, no favorite place, and no coffee. She had a little pocket Bible, a heart, and an incredible hope: that the hope of Christ was more real than the terror of the world.
May we see that again. And may we make a difference in this world.
Sibylle/Daughter of Zion.