The questions in the back of the Bonhoeffer book are thought-provoking, as if the book itself isn't stimulating enough! I have to work hard to turn my mind off at the end of the day; I lie in bed trying to sort out my thoughts and deal with my heart.
The questions, along with the book, which is full of Bonhoeffer's thoughts on Christian living, make me realize how little I know about so many things. Really know, deeply know. Like Tim Keller says in the other book I'm reading, regarding his own experience, when someone has spent a great deal of time in "the life and works of a single figure, something interesting happens. You don't just get to know his writings; you get to know how his mind works." A congregant had told him that when he was prepared for a sermon, Keller quoted and cited many various sources, but when he wasn't prepared he only used C.S. Lewis. Keller noted that he was correct because he was so comfortable with and steeped in Lewis' writings that "he (Lewis) is part of my (Keller's) thought life." (74) Lewis' words and thoughts would come almost unconsciously out of Keller's mouth.
Isn't this what it means to have the mind of Christ? If I were to dive in, as Keller describes it, to Jesus' life, what he said, how he lived, and what he meant to the early church, then how could I not be captured (to use another word that Keller uses) by it all such that Jesus' thoughts and actions did, indeed, come out of me spontaneously? And that it would be so much a part of who I am that it "becomes the cast of [my] whole mind."
I have a long way to go to get to that point. Hopefully, knowing that is true is a good first step on the journey.
The third set of questions in the Reading Group Guide have to do with death, eternity, and life in the present. When Dietrich was young, three of his brothers were involved in World War I; one of them died from a shrapnel wound. Before his brother's death, several cousins died in the war. The younger Bonhoeffers "would often lie in bed at night and talk about death and eternity. Do you spend much time thinking about eternity? Should a person concentrate on life after death, or is it better to keep one's focus soley on this life and what can be accomplished now?"
I do think a lot about eternity, and often for selfish reasons. I would like to hurry up and get to that age because life is hard. Relationships are hard. Having children is hard. Being married is hard. This gets to sounding whiny after a while, and I realize it. Then I consider what is truly hard: the oppression in the world, the slavery that still exists, the poverty and empty bellies that are in my own city and in every place that is populated on earth. I long for the time when there is no more pain, when cancer is not devastating people, when cruelty is no longer, when suffering comes to an end.
Mike preached a sermon on Heaven a couple of years ago, and I gained fresh perspective on eternity. The new heavens and the new earth, Heaven, will be a physical place. There will be matter. We will have bodies, not just spirits. These things I already believed. What he said, though, is that what we do now is important for eternity's sake. There are many things that we can do in this world to make God's beauty known, in every field, and in every aspect of life. Beauty in his kingdom now prepares us and those around us for the eternal beauty of his kingdom. There is nothing too small, if it is honoring God. So I think that one should not focus solely on either living now or on living in eternity. It must be both. This is something I am looking forward to reading more about in the Scriptures. How do we live this out? How do we engage in our culture, seeking to work for God's kingdom, loving the world and the people who are in it, and yet not become worldly. Jesus told his disciples,"Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16 Such a balance seems tricky, but something worthy of figuring out. At least as well as one can.