Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bonhoeffer, 1937. Chapter 18, “The Disciple and Unbelievers”

Chapter 18, “The Disciple and Unbelievers”

In Matthew 7:1-12 Jesus talks about judgment and the condemnation which we may be tempted to place upon others. He also calls us to ask the Father eagerly for good things. Bonhoeffer sees a sharp shift between Matthew 6 and 7, with Jesus changing the focus to the Christian’s interactions with unbelievers. Because Christ’s disciples have received gifts from the Lord, they might expect to sit in judgment. Jesus excludes this idea.Why is this? Bonhoeffer asserts that the Christian does not have the privilege of judgment because it is only Christ who can see accurately. On the contrary, the job of the Christian is to love and care for the unbeliever.

In our effort to care for unbelievers, Bonhoeffer cautions us against using human means and coercion to make converts. This, he suggests, is what Jesus views as “casting pearls before swine” (Loc. 2603). Rather, we look to the Lord, allowing his Word to work or not work as God pleases. This motivates the Christian disciple to prayer for his neighbors. It encourages our dependence on God.

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