[Rough Draft]

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the ministry of "active helpfulness"

being part of the community group that meets in our apartment on monday nights has challenged me to grow in many areas, and an aid to this growth has been bonhoeffer's life together, which i'm re-reading for about the 5th time. here's a snippet that speaks to the part of me that is overwhelmed w/ keeping the kids and still trying to be a decent pastoral assistant:
we must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by god. god will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people w/ claims and petitions. we may pass them by, preoccupied w/ our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps -- reading the bible. when we do that we pass by the visible sign of the cross raised athwart our path to show us that, not our way, but god's way must be done. it is a strange fact that christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. they think they are doing god a service in this, but actually they are disdaining god's "crooked yet straight path" (gottfried arnold). they do not want a life that is crossed and balked. but it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by god.
(dietrich bonhoeffer, life together (san francisco: harper & row, 1954): 99.)


  • At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Never thought of it that way. . . but how do we find the balance between allowing ourselves to be interrupted by God and maintaining the focus necessary to accomplish work for Him which requires our more sustained attention? Openness to His will for us surely can lead us in many directions, but how do we discern which are truly distractions and which are turns in God's crooked path for us?
    -Matt J.

  • At 2:05 PM, Blogger sammy said…

    i think renee' would say "that's where the holy spirit comes in," and i would agree. i know i'm taking it out of context, but 1 jn. 4.1 ("test the spirits to see whether they are from god") seems to stand for the proposition that the holy spirit w/in us can give us nudges: in this case, either in the direction of "tend to this person/thing" or "blow that off -- you need to focus right now." (i'm currently typing this on my laptop in caribou coffee while i should be reading, so take this w/ a grain of salt)

    here's what i propose: if we're "prayed up," so to speak -- in contact w/ god b/c we've started our day w/ prayer, always being watchful for whatever we can do to enhance the spread of the kingdom of god in our lives and in our communities, and quick to pray on the spot when a sitution presents itself -- then we'll be more apt to act in accordance w/ god's will in any given set of circumstances.

    and for me it's always good to remember not to be arrogant about my schedule -- god sets my priorities, whether i like it or not, and even when i screw up and spend time on something maybe i shouldn't, he is quite capable of "making ropes from the rags" of my day (debt to caedmon's call for that little line).

  • At 9:44 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pryor said…

    Sammy you Holy Spirit preachin' community crazed Christian. I couldn't agree more with everything you wrote. Our lifestyle should be animated by consistently staying in step with the Holy Spirit and our Christian community (our church) exists to remind, encourage, equip and live this lifestyle with us.

    This IS the new life Jesus came to bring us. Loved the Bonhoeffer quote and feel its time for me to read Life Together again as well.




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