As I mentioned on Monday this weekend I was doing some research on the role of the church in the world. I thought the insights of Karl Barth were profound, but equally insightful are these reflections from pastor, theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
"Whoever sets eyes on the body of Jesus Christ in faith can never again speak of the world as though it were lost, as though it were separated from Christ; he can never with clerical arrogance set himself a part from the world (Bonhoeffer, Ethics, p. 205)." And by "the body of Jesus Christ" he doesn't mean the church, but the literal, physical body of Jesus. In other Christ lives in the world. So how can the church claim to possess Christ? We cannot. To do so is arrogant. And he sharpens his theology even more.
"Everything would be ruined if one were to try to reserve Christ for the Church and to allow the world only some kind of law, even if it were a Christian law. Christ died for the world, and it is only in the midst of the world that Christ is Christ (Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pp. 205-6)." Wow. Talk about penetratingly truthful! Try that one out on most Christians and they will want to object. But can they?
"In Christ we are offered the possibility of partaking in the reality of God and in the reality of the world, but not in the one without the other. The reality of God discloses itself only by setting me entirely in the reality of the world, and when I encounter the reality of the world it is always already sustained, accepted and reconciled in the reality of God. This is the inner meaning of the revelation of God in the man Jesus Christ...One is denying the revelation of God in Jesus Christ if one tries to be 'Christian' without seeing and recognizing the world in Christ (Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pp. 195f)."
Think about this today, Wednesday, May 21st.