Summary: If we are going to recapture our spirit of adventure for God, we must be willing to sacrifice for the Kingdom of Christ
Last week I shared the story of Helen Keller and her incredible spirit and inspirational life. We are to tackle life with the same kind of spirit or tenacity. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. This week I want to look at the life of one of the most influential, conservative theologians of the 20th century.
To say this man was brilliant would be an understatement. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Berlin in 1927 with a doctorate in theology, a stunning feat, especially at the age of 21.
He took up the cause of conservative theology and battled for the church to embrace a relative faith that impacted the world. The goal was to change the world for Christ.
He traveled to New York for further studies and then took a church in London due to unrest in Germany. He began writing and published a variety of works on theology and church. He decided that his calling was to assist ministers in Germany. He began to teach at Finkenwalde Seminary which was later closed by the Nazi’s. He then secretly traveled from village to village training ministers.
The man would eventually return to the United States as a guest scholar at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Again, he began feeling the need to return to help his fellow countrymen under Nazi rule. He returned to discover his brother was assisting a group trying to overthrow Hitler.
He would soon be arrested for his association and assistance with those involved in Operation Valkerie. While in prison he continued to write and to teach. He would be executed a mere three weeks before Berlin was liberated.
His writings are considered classics and many are required reading in conservative theology.
His name is Dietrich Bonhoeffer
When Christ calls someone; He bids them to come and die. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
If we are going to recapture our spirit of adventure for God, we must be willing to sacrifice for the Kingdom of Christ. If you have your Bibles with you this morning, open them to John 12:23-26. I want to look at the first daring step you need to take to truly be a disciple of Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:23-26
Sacrifice brings life
Remember that Jesus was being sought by many. His teaching is nothing short of radical. His power was just revealed in the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Even Greeks were trying to see Jesus. There seems to be a clear rise in the sheer popularity of Jesus. Just when the world would scramble for power and prestige, Jesus trades the honor of a king for the humility of sacrifice. Jesus makes the future abundantly clear, He is not bound for a crown but instead heads for the cross.
Jesus echoes an important truth that many seem to forget is that when God sent His Son, He gave his very best. God gave up His highest prize and His greatest gift. The sacrifice of Jesus opened the door for us to experience salvation. The gruesome death carried out on the cross allows us to experience the grace of Christ.
Jesus makes something else clear as well. The truth is that He was going to be glorified. The concept of glorification is one of great honor, of being raised up or placed on a higher level. The idea is similar to carrying a player off the field on the shoulders of the teammates. Being glorified means that the person experiences an extreme honor. This would have been the kind of honor given to a king. Jesus was gaining His glory through submission to God’s will and the shedding of His divine blood.
The absolute nature of God’s grace is poured into the glory of a Roman cross. There is no other act in history that defines God’s love, reveals the depth of His mercy and shows the desire of god to save us as the cross. The cross stood at the center of Christ’s future but how often do we ignore the cross in our daily lives? How often do we take the nature of this grace for granted?
The sacrifice of following
Jesus gave His life for salvation. What do we give in return? Halfhearted commitments and self centered living. Our nature is human, sinful and faulty. We miss the true nature of the cross many times just because we are too focused on ourselves. The truth is that we place ourselves at a higher level of priority than we do Christ. Jesus is calling for a radical commitment. Jesus is calling for us to offer Him the totality of our lives. Jesus desires and wants it all. Discipleship is a sacrifice of who we are and what we desire to experience the wholeness that comes from knowing Jesus.