Wednesday, March 15, 2006


"Jesus is there only for others...Our relation to God is not a 'religious' relationship...but our relation to God is a new life in 'existence for others,' through participation in the being of Jesus...the church is the church only when it exists for others." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer as quoted in Foster's Streams of Living Water

I was stunned by this assertion by Bonhoeffer that our "relation" to God is not something that is primarily focused on our edification or even our salvation. Rather, our "relation" to God is an invitation to invest our lives in and allow our stories to unfold in the midst and on behalf of others.

My prayer is that our "relation" to God will lead us into a proper "relation" with others, among whom we freely give and freely receive, freely embrace and freely surrender. God has blessed us by making us recipients of His grace. By the indwelling of His Spirit, I pray that he will teach us to live lives of "gratuite."


g13 said...

This idea sounds similar, but in reality is quite dissimilar from the often self-centered, individualistic talk about a "relationship with God" that I've heard from so many pulpits and...let's be honest...ocassionally even out of my own mouth. I don't know about you, but I have often thought that our talk about a "relationship with God" often sounds poorly considered at best and irreverent at worst. Maybe I’m off-base here, but I’ve cringed every time I’ve heard someone blather on about such a "personal relationship" over the past few years. Fortunately, I think Bonhoeffer’s concept of "relation" offers us a better way to think and talk about things.

Landis said...

This is really good stuff, Jeff. I'm taking a class on Bonhoeffer this fall. You just made me really look forward to it.

jackaway said...


Mike said...

yeah if i understood it right it puts it into the turms of being related/like


Anonymous said...

Interesting of late I have been contemplating the idea of a personal relationship with God. For some reason, which I'm not sure I can explain, I just don't feel connected to God through the idea of a "personal relationship." I aim to be a "follower of God," although sometimes I wonder if I'm being as proactive in that regards as I could be.

I feel very out of place in the evangelical tradition. Perhaps this thought process is a bit over simplistic, but I haven't run accross too many people in Chattanooga who are thinking in a similar manner and can discuss on a deeper level. Michael of TN