Saturday, February 13, 2010

Speaking of Love

I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer this morning and came across this; It totally blew me away. I had just posted on love yesterday and was praying about what love means. This is such a powerful passage. I hope it goes deep with you!

"Jesus Christ stands between the lover and the others he loves. I do not know in advance what love of others means on the basis of the general idea of love that grows out of my human desires-all this may rather be hatred and an insidious kind of selfishness in the eyes of Christ. What love is, only Christ tells in his Word.
Contrary to all my own opinions and convictions, Jesus Christ will tell me what love toward the brethren really is. Therefore, spiritual love is bound solely to the Word of Jesus Christ. Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it.
Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for loves sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love.

Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves an enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and his Word.

Human love can never understand spiritual love, for spiritual love is from above; it is something completely strange, new and incomprehensible to all earthly love.
Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such as what that I may be saved, so others too, can be saved only by Christ himself.

This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence from me; to be loved for what he is, as one for who Christ became man, died and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Because Christ has long since acted decisively for my brother, before I could begin to act, I must leave him to 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 through 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 has has received from Jesus Christ; that image that Jesus Christ himself embodied and would stamp upon all men.
Therefore, Spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interferences in 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 Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him him again in order that Christ may heal with him.

It will respect the line that hes 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 more to Christ about a brother than to 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 of Christ. It is out of this love that John the disciple speaks "I have no greater jot than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4)

Human love lives by uncontrolled and uncontrollable dark desires; spiritual love lives in the clear light of service ordered by the truth.
Human love produces subjection, dependence, constraint; spiritual love creates freedom of the brethren under the Word.
Human love breeds hothouse flowers;spiritual love creates the fruits that grows heartily in accord with God's good will in the rain and storm and sunshine of God's outdoors.
The existence of any Christian life together depends on whether it succeeds at the right time in bringing about the ability to distinguish between a human ideal and God's reality, between spiritual and human community."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Life Together.


  1. That's really neat! I read a similar type thing from C.S Lewis a few days ago.
    I don't comment that often on your blog, but I always enjoy your posts :)

  2. I could ponder on these words for quite a while. There is a lot of meat in there to chew on and think about... very deep...


    I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog today! I love the post, I love the blog, and I love your profile description. I am inspired; thank you!

    BTY - I homeschool my children, too! :)