“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another . . . but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more’ (I Thess, 4.9, 10).
God himself has undertaken to teach brotherly love; all that men can add to it is to remember this divine instruction and the admonition to excel in it more and more. When God was merciful, when he revealed Jesus Christ to us as our Brother, when he won our hearts by his love, this was the beginning of our instruction in divine love. When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren. When we received forgiveness instead of judgment, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received, the more we were able to give; and the more meagre our brotherly love, the less were we living by God’s mercy and love. Thus God himself taught us to meet one another as God has met us in Christ. ‘Wherefore receive ye one another,”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
I originally planned to simply post this quote, but I found it so challenging personally that I decided to blog about it. I have to admit that Christmas is often a time when I want to impress others, at least a little. There are those family members and friends I don’t see or hear from too often during the year so ….when we get together I’d like them to see me at my best. I take care with how I look and what I wear, and even what I tell them about how my life is going.
Then there are the gifts …I prefer to be the giver, rather than humbly receiving. I enjoy giving gifts and feeling generous. Isn’t there some pride in this? I don’t like others to see that I need them or what they have to offer.
What about food? Instead of a simple meal together, Christmas has to be a feast … in fact, a series of feasts and parties and excess. Through it all, I’m hoping that my culinary contributions will measure up and be appreciated as “the best.”
I can give myself a pass on decorating, probably because I simply don’t have that talent or inclination. However, for many of us, it’s worthwhile to consider: am I decorating to welcome the King? Or to impress my visitors with ‘house beautiful’?
Jesus came on Christmas as a helpless infant. He was born in a dirty stable to poor parents. He left honor and glory behind to become one of us, one of the least of us… and why? Simply out of love. The least we can do is love others and receive His sacrifice in humility and grateful worship. I see clearly how things should be, but understanding it is much easier than living it. Authors and readers have you found ways to celebrate Christmas correctly? I’d like to hear some suggestions.
This quote is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Book, “God Is In the Manger.” I’m planning to request it from our local library, so you may see a review later this month!
“Jesus stands at the door knocking (Rev. 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us.”
“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
“The incarnate one is the glorified God: ‘The Word was made flesh and we beheld his glory.’ God glorifies himself in man. That is the ultimate secret of the Trinity. The humanity is now taken up into the Trinity. Not from all eternity, but ‘from now on even unto eternity;’ the trinitarian God is seen as the incarnate one. The glorification of God in the flesh is now at the same time, the glorification of man, who shall have life through eternity with the trinitarian God…God remains the incarnate one even in the Last Judgement.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christ the Center, p. 105)