Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Running the Risk of Sinning


I read this last night and found it quite striking. It's from the new biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. Bonhoeffer was a German Christian pastor who participated in an assassination plot against Hitler, was caught and executed. The emphasis is mine.

'Bonhoeffer talked about how the German penchant for self-sacrifice and submission to authority had been used for evil ends by the Nazis; only a deep understanding of and commitment to the God of the Bible could stand up to such wickedness. "It depends on a God who demands responsible action in a bold venture of faith", he wrote, "and who promises forgiveness and consolation to the man who becomes a sinner in that venture." Here was the rub: one must be more zealous to please God than to avoid sin. One must sacrifice oneself utterly to God's purposes; even to the point of possibly making moral mistakes. One's obedience to God must be forward-oriented and zealous and free, and to be a mere moralist or pietist would make such a life impossible.'

For too many, trying to avoid sin actually has a selfish motivation. We pursue that with our own welfare and standing in view. But being so zealous to obey God that one might actually err and sin as a result can be something that is based in a love for God and His purposes for this world. It is a willing sacrifice of one's own comfort and that because of love for God and neighbor. This was why Bonhoeffer was able to make the hard choices when confronted by such evil. Those more concerned to protect themselves will never be able to respond as he did. They are afraid of the risk to themselves. But those filled with zeal for God will run the risk. 

God is more pleased with those who try to love Him in this way and err (sin) than those who play it safe. Peter was one of Jesus' favorites.


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