“Because Christ has long since acted decisively for my brother, before I could begin to act, I must leave him his freedom to be Christ’s; I must meet him only as the person that he already is in Christ’s eyes. This is the meaning of the proposition that we can meet others only though the mediation of Christ. Human love constructs its own image of the other person, of what he is and what he should become, it takes the life of the other person into its own hands. Spiritual love recognizes the true image of the other person which he has received from Jesus Christ; the image that Jesus Christ himself embodied and would stamp upon all men.
“Therefore, spiritual love proves itself in that everything is says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference it the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear World of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him. It will respect the line that has been drawn between him and us by Christ, and it will find full fellowship with him in the Christ who alone binds us together. Thus this spiritual love will speak to Christ about a brother more than a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and that love of others is wholly dependent upon the truth in Christ.” (underline added)
To be willing to leave people with the Words of the Scriptures and let the Holy Spirit work on them….wow, what a powerful concept! All to often we, out of our love and concern for them, try to force people to change their lives. Only, as Bonhoeffer says, this is “human love” and not “spiritual love”, which, instead of trying to change people, allows the Spirit of God to work in the lives of people for however long He wants to.
Good words and are hard to walk out day to day for it requires self-control and a solid trusting foundation that Jesus knows what He is doing, even when we don’t have a clue. Yeah…good advice Bonhoeffer. good advice… now to walk it out…