Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany in the early part of the 20th century. It was not an easy time to be a leader in Christ’s church. Hitler was carrying out many atrocities. Resisting Nazi propaganda only came with great cost. Bonhoeffer was exiled from his hometown of Berlin for a time. He would ultimately pay for his convictions with his life.
Bonhoeffer made a couple of short trips to America. His assessment was that the church in America was rather shallow. People did not take theology seriously. And there was an inordinate amount of time spent in leisure and entertainment. He pondered these things in his journal and came to the conclusion that there was seriousness in Europe because of the struggles they had endured. He wrote, “I now often wonder whether it is true that America is the country without a reformation.” Europe had struggled in defense of the gospel and America had not.
We spend most of our time trying to escape or avoid suffering. And we give little thought to what God might want to accomplish through our suffering. I have heard many people recently who have bailed on their commitments at the first sign of difficulty. They assume that God would never want them to have to endure such struggle. But God never says that obedience is an easy path.
Increasingly I see parents who won’t allow their children to struggle. They fight to ensure that their child doesn’t get assigned that difficult teacher. They bail them out financially when they make poor choices. They let them skip out on youth group activities if certain “security blanket” friends are not able to attend. We don’t realize that we are crippling our children and impairing their ability to navigate life in the real world. The result of all of this is that we have become soft, spoiled and self-centered. Let’s grow up and commit ourselves to doing the right thing – even when it is hard.
Photo by grendelkhan