During my life time, the American dream was having a white picket fence around a nice little house and 2 or 3 perfectly behaved children. It was the “Ozzie and Harriet”, “Leave It to Beaver”, and “Father Know Best” all rolled into one, the perfect family.
Unfortunately there is very little reality to this fantasy.
Christianity is sometimes also framed in unrealistic terms. It was something we all did on Sunday and personal faith was seldom spoken about. God was good but not really knowable. There was no requirement other than membership. Children were not taught the idea of sacrifice or being sold out for Jesus. In fact this foreign concept almost didn’t exist. Pot lucks were the ideal of sharing. Rummage sales were how we paid for the needs of the church. Does anyone remember this style of Christianity?
In the 1970’s there was a type of revolution called the Jesus Movement. Young people were tired of a faith and a God that was not real. Millions of these young men and women got radically saved. I was one of them. We wanted to see God move and touch humanity. We knew that we were not the sum total of everything and that there must be something greater than ourselves. The slogan “Jesus is the Answer” became our reality. I have been a Christian since 1971 and that reality has matured and gotten stronger.
I was introduced through a book to a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German pastor, martyr, and prophet). He was a man who truly lived out the Christian life. In the midst of Hitler’s Germany, Bonhoeffer stood up against the tyranny of Hitler, and for this, 4 days prior to the ending of the war, after 18 months as a prisoner of the third Reich, he was killed and thus became a Christian martyr.
Bonhoeffer lived and breathed the scripture. He believed it to be God’s word and a Christian must live by this book – the Bible.
He lived the following verse of scripture found in Galatians chapter 2 and verse 20:
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Eric Metaxas states in his book, “Bonhoeffer”,
“Who stands fast?” he asked. “Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principle, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God- the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.
“Bonhoeffer’s life’s answer and call was as a part of the resistance to Hitler and for this he gave his life.”
I must admit that this is a far cry from the white picket life spoken of earlier. One must come to a place of complete surrender in order to enjoy the fruits of a set apart life. This life has a claim on you.
Paul said in Galatians, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” I do not believe we can be world changers for Christ without this attitude. The halls of heaven are lined with those who have gone before us and heard these wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Paul, Peter, the other apostles, Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, all knew what it meant to live for Christ. We must ask ourselves this question. Are we ready to live our Christian lives as those who have gone before us? Are we willing to give our all for His utmost? I pray this for me and you.