When I finished the Bonhoeffer book I took a step back from writing this blog. I wanted time to reflect on his importance and fully realize what Dietrich Bonhoeffer means to all of us. I’m still wondering why he gave his life so willingly. He was the son of wealthy parents, his father was a famous psychiatrist and his mother home schooled all of the children in religion. They really didn’t even attend church and yet, Dietrich Bonhoeffer chose to become a theologian and that decision led him to his inevitable destiny. His faith transformed him. He went from passive observer to active participant and his death stands as a stark reminder of what God expects from all of us. He expects everything.
There are no half measures when it comes to transformational faith. We either have all of it or none of it. I believe this is exactly where organized religion has failed. For hundreds of years the church has welcomed everybody without much proof of faith. They set the bar so low, anybody could pass the test. What if God has higher expectations than showing up once a week, tithing and confessing our sins? What if God expects us to be changed by our faith? Dietrich Bonhoeffer went from being a pastor to a co-conspirator in a plot to assassinate Hitler. He was willing to kill another human being if that’s what God expected of him. He was taking the risk that he might go to Hell for breaking the fifth commandment but his faith could not see any other option. The evil that Hitler represented could only be stopped by men of faith who found the courage in their convictions to do the right thing, no matter what the cost.
I believe God has an incredibly high expectation for all of us. He has imbued us all with brains, courage, compassion and faithfulness. It is up to each of us to recognize our potential and make the most of it by serving him here on Earth. I believe this life is an audition for something even better in the next life. So much so that there is no price too high. The transformation that occurs when real faith takes hold is beyond our wildest imaginations.
Let me give you an example of what high expectations can do for ordinary people. Back in the days before the telegraph connected America, from coast to coast, it took weeks for mail to get across the country. The Pony Express was started to solve this problem. The employment ad for riders read like this, “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Alexander Majors, who was one of the owners of this enterprise, was such a religious man that he gave each rider a Bible and made them take this oath, “While I am the employ of A. Majors, I agree not to use profane language, not to get drunk, not to gamble, not to treat animals cruelly and not to do anything that is incompatible with the conduct of a gentleman. And I agree, if I violate any of the above conditions, to accept my discharge without any pay for my services.” Based on the expectations of Alexander Majors wouldn’t you think that no one even applied? Well they did and the Pony Express operated successfully for 18 months before the telegraph ended its run. The greatest story ever told about the Pony Express was this one…”Jack Keetley’s longest ride, upon which he doubled back for another rider, ended at Seneca (Kansas) where he was taken from the saddle sound asleep. He had ridden 340 miles in thirty-one hours without stopping to rest or eat.”
It seems to me that Alexander Majors knew full well what he was asking and by doing so he raised these men up to a level of faithfulness not seen before. That’s the kind of faith I seek. Faith that knows no limitations, faith that encourages me in everything I do, faith that rubs off on all those around me and faith that leads me to the next life where I will be given even more responsibility. I’m never going to be satisfied with just enough faith. I want to make God notice me and remember my name when it’s my turn to die. I want to be in the express lane to the afterlife where the next opportunity already has my name on it. So what if the bar is high? They call it a leap of faith not a stumble. God is holding open auditions every day. How much do you want a part in his greatest play?
Here’s just one more bit of wisdom from the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tzu,
“Little faith is put in them whose faith is small.”
I truly hope I see you all on the other side, now get out there and show me some faith.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.