The Essence of Sustenance: An Appeal to Bonhoeffer Regarding the Purpose of a Continued Life

Today I finished "Letters and Papers from Prison" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For those who aren't familiar with Bonhoeffer, he was a Lutheran Theologian and pastor in Germany before and during Hitler's rule. He was arrested for his public opposition to the regime and eventually executed on April 9, 1945. This book is a compilation of his writings while imprisoned.

I would definitely suggest this read to anyone who is interested - perhaps, it would be best as a follow up to "The Cost of Discipleship," "Ethics," and "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" by Eric Metaxas.

I realize that yesterdays post could be read as quite harsh and perhaps difficult to read. I hope that today's brings encouragement, yet also furthers you along your path of obedience to where the Father is calling you.


Being in a season of transition (physically, occupationally, spiritually), I've been more acutely aware of common struggles that are rampant today. I sense that we are in the midst of a wave of confusion, misdirection, and depression. Looking back over the past few centuries, today stands out as particularly "lost". I have felt it, and I'm sure that you have as well. So much of our identity is wrapped up in occupation or family, that when either of those are removed or changed, the foundation of who we are gets rearranged. It isn't fun, and I don't believe that it is good. I hope that if you continue reading, you will begin to sense a clearer picture of "the meaning of life" - - I know this is a big cup to drink, but I hope to begin a conversation rather than exhaust every facet.

Today I want to expound on a specific section of "Letters and Papers from Prison" - specifically paralleling a quote with a section of an outline for a book the he never got to write.

On page 127 he says, "Lack of desire is poverty."

On page 204 he expounds on how the church is to be involve in the world, 
"The Church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others. In particular, our own Church will have to take the field against the vices of hubris, power-worship, envy, and humbug, as the roots of all evil. It will have to speak of moderation, purity, trust, loyalty, constancy, patience, discipline, humility, contentment, and modesty. It must not underestimate the importance of human example (which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus and is so important in Paul's teaching); it is not abstract argument but example, that gives its word emphasis and power." 
Friends, I believe that these two points are intimately connected. Let me explain.

Desire is the catalyst for life. One who desires much, though often faced with difficulty to achieve, always has her desire to push her forward into action. This desire exists as a safety net, always providing something for which to live. Desire awakens us in the morning and makes going to sleep at night only an unwelcome necessity to fuel the next days actions. Desire is wealth. If this desire ever leaves, you will find depression and a wasted life.

Praise the Lord - He has provided every one of us with enough to "desire" - - whether or not we realize it! The desire of the Father is for each of us to know him. Our desire, once we know him, is therefore to help make His desire a reality. How is this best done? By identifying areas in our world that don't reflect His Kingdom (All that is good, right, beautiful) and by working to bring His Kingdom fully into those realms.

I don't believe that this "desire" can be gained simply by reading. I don't think you will truly know the desire of which I speak until you experience it personally. Once someone beings a relationship with Christ, they experience, at least partially, an overflowing understanding of how "life in the Kingdom" feels. So many people, and often me included, are tricked into thinking that this is a momentary experience that is afterwards reserved for "the other side of glory." This is wrong. Any time that the Father allows you to play part in advancing his Kingdom in this world, whether through intercessory prayer, preaching the Gospel, serving those in need, etc - - you will feel the presence of the Kingdom of God.

My intentions here are to give hope. Times in my life where I was absent from this understanding, where my desires haven't been to advance the Kingdom - where my actions weren't serving others from love - I have felt as though life is meaningless. It sucks. The only way that I know to move beyond this is through tasting the advancement of the Kingdom of God. As Bonhoeffer says above, it's not abstract argument that gives emphasis and power - it's example. I hope today that you can find someone living this out to be an example to you - and I hope that you, in turn, become an example to others of what it means to live with desire - to live advancing the Kingdom. This is how lives are changed. This is what keeps people alive and motivated.

Grace and Peace.


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