Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book #6 - The Shame and the Sacrifice

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of those characters in history that I wanted to read more about. I'll be honest, biographies are generally my least favorite genre of book to read. The problem isn't the historical significance, it's the inane amount of fluff that seems to be present in them. It took a while to get through this because there was a lot of fluff that I found to be uninteresting, and therefore picking the book up to read it was a chore at times.

It didn't help that this reading fell over the job transition into Hillside, so it was a pretty busy time in my life.

Anyway, this biography on Bonhoeffer was full of the fluff that I find frivolous, but it did have some definite gems and some major points to make about the way Christians reacted and were treated in the growth of the Nazi movement throughout Germany.

The insight into the German psyche following World War I helps a reader who is 70 years removed from the Second World War to understand a little more of how it was possible that a man like Hitler ever came into such a dangerously powerful role. As I read this, I remembered learning some of it in high school history.

But the impact on the church was relatively impactful for me, since the church is my vocational setting and primary concern when reading a book like this.

How did the Christians of Germany allow themselves to get so taken by the horrible Nazi movement? How did they so quickly and easily lose sight of Christ, the Prince of Peace?

One word. Nationalism.

There are some incredible parallels to be made between the German church of the 1920's and 30's along with the American church of the early 2000's. I'm afraid the nationalistic tendencies are running rather deep here, too, with many "American Christians" identifying first as Americans then as Christians, similar to their German predecessors.

We should all be quick, I think, to learn a lesson from these German Christians and understand that our Kingdom is not of this world. We are dual citizens, but our primary citizenship is in Heaven and because of this, we should allow heavenly thought to impact each of our decisions, regardless of our American citizenship.

I feel obligated to make a clear point of what I am not saying. I'm not suggesting that we burn our flags. I'm not suggesting that we move to another country. I'm not suggesting that America sucks. I'm not suggesting that Christians shouldn't feel blessed to have a freedom of worship guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

It is most assuredly a blessing to live in America, but it's a far greater blessing to be a citizen of Heaven. Let us never lose sight of that.


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