I’m reading Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. It’s slow going. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it’s the profundity of thought or the quality of the translation which is making me read and re-read a passage in order to understand it.
Yesterday I read a section on Christ as the Mediator. That’s not an unfamiliar idea, but Bonhoeffer’s spin on it is. He calls us to think of everything and everyone we love, then states that the cost of following Christ includes seeing Christ as the Mediator between us and all those things. We can never again look at or interact with any person or activity or object in quite the same way, because every thing must be filtered through Christ.
Some activities will fall by the wayside if I approach them with the mind of Christ. Some things may get less of my attention when Christ’s perspective impacts how I use my free time. The people I love should sense that I am different. Christ has come between us, literally.
It seems that this should be a good thing…but it could be a hard thing for a new believer who is in a relationship with a nonbeliever. I have a friend who broke up with her boyfriend because she found Christ and he had not. (Happy ending: he did too, and they are married.) Bonhoeffer’s emphasis in this section is definitely on reevaluting the people and things we used to love before we committed ourselves to following Christ. Habits which seemed benign may now seem detrimental–or at the least, a waste of valuable time. And like my friend Jon, I am realizing that I have less and less time to waste.
This morning in Sunday School we were talking about our boldness (or lack thereof) in witnessing. Our teacher had forwarded to us a link to a YouTube video made by Penn Jillette of the magic act, Penn & Teller. These excellent performers are also outspoken atheists. (Well, Penn is. Teller doesn’t speak at all.) In the video, Penn tells us about an audience member who came back the night after seeing the act, specifically to compliment the show and to give Penn a pocket New Testament and Psalms. Penn was obviously moved by this man’s action, saying several times that this was “a good man.” He respected the man’s boldness, stating that he doesn’t understand having a conviction that people around you are going to die without God and yet NOT talking to them. “How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them that they’re going to hell?” he asked. An amazing question, coming from an atheist.
This made me think: that Christ-filter isn’t just for evaluating our old loves. It’s for seeing everything and everybody in a new way. Even people we don’t like. Maybe especially people we don’t like.