Friday, May 13, 2011
Eric Metaxas has written a compelling and award-winning biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. On page 209 Metaxas gives the account of a sermon that Bonhoeffer preached from the book of Jeremiah:
"The picture that Bonhoeffer painted of Jeremiah was one of unrelieved gloom and drama. God was after him, and he could not escape. Bonhoeffer referred to the 'arrow of the Almighty' striking down its 'hunted game.' But who was the hunted game? It was Jeremiah! But why was God shooting at the hero of the story? Before they found out, Bonhoeffer switched from arrow imagery to noose imagery. 'The noose is drawn tighter and more painfully,' he continued, 'reminding Jeremiah that he is a prisoner. He is a prisoner and he has to follow. His path is prescribed. It is the path of the man whom God will not let go, who will never be rid of God…' He marched farther downhill: 'This path will lead right down into the deepest situation of human powerlessness. The follower will become a laughingstock, scorned and taken for a fool, but a fool who is extremely dangerous to people’s peace and comfort, so that he or she must be beaten, locked up, tortured, if not put to death right away. That is exactly what became of this man, Jeremiah, because he could not get away from God.'"
Of course, little did Bonhoeffer know when he preached this message that his "path of ministry" would lead to martyrdom at the hands of his countrymen - the Nazi regime. But his words definitely put the "call to ministry" in a different light, don't they? When God "gets" you, He gets you. Paul spoke of being "compelled" and being a "slave to Christ." If you are like me, you maybe sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to not be in ministry, to have a regular 9 to 5. But all ambivalence about where God has us needs to cease and desist immediately. God has us, and that is that.