Bonhoeffer reflected on the surprising discovery of Martin Luther in the cloister. Martin went into the cloister to appease God, to find God, to keep a promise to God for saving his life in a thunder storm. He hoped to find God in the cloister’s separation from the world. Ironically, when God opened Luther’s eyes to the gospel in the pages of Romans, he found that God sent him back into the world. Bonhoeffer noted:
“The only way to follow Jesus was by living in the world. Hitherto the Christian life had been the achievement of a few choice spirits under the exceptionally favourable conditions of monasticism; now it is a duty laid on every Christian living in the obedience in one’s daily vocation of life. The conflict between the life of the Christian and the life of the world was thus thrown into the sharpest possible relief. It was a hand-to-hand conflict between the Christian and the world.
It is a fatal misunderstanding of Luther’s action to suppose that his rediscovery of the gospel of pure grace offered a general dispensation from obedience to the command of Jesus, or that it was the great discovery of the Reformation that God’s forgiving grace automatically conferred upon the world both righteousness and holiness. On the contrary, for Luther the Christian’s worldly calling is sanctified only in so far as that calling registers the final, radical protest against the world.”
The Cost of Discipleship, 48-49.
The only way to follow Christ is to live in the world. Bonhoeffer is right. If we are going to change the world, we have to live in the world. We have to love the world, the people of the world, and we need to fully engage them on every front. But our living in the world is a “radical protest against the world.”
I’m praying that Christians would wake up and start living a “radical protest against the world’ and that we would learn to live passionately for and like Jesus.