Yesterday I had the privilege of taking a day off to rest and recharge. I spent much of it finishing Eric Metaxas' brilliant biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy." I have benefitted greatly from Bonhoeffer's writing, namely his books The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together which are tremendous texts for the formation of our lives in Christ-likeness. Bonhoeffer is honest, unflinching, and at the same time a pastor at heart as he writes. Which is interesting because he became one of the conspirators to assassinate Hitler during World War II. He was executed on April 9, 1945 at Flossenburg prison, 23 days before the Allied troops ended the war.
In the book, he lays out a tremendous piece of teaching on how the life of following Jesus should be lived. To paraphrase, Bonhoeffer speaks of the fact that following Jesus is less about avoiding sins and wrongs against God and more about living and responding to the will of God. For someone who was contemplating helping high-ranking Third Reich generals kill Adolf Hitler, this makes a great deal of sense.
I don't know how I fall on the ethical and spiritual issues involved in the assassination plot, but what I do know is that there is a singular principle that has been reiterated by people like Bonhoeffer as well as Dallas Willard that we all need to meditate on and ingrain in our brains:
If we simply live to avoid sin, or live by sin management, we will miss entirely the beautiful freedom of being set free by the Son of God to live in the positive - following God's will - rather than in the negative where our focus is the sin checklist.
Compare this to your own life - do you find yourself reflecting on each day asking the question: "Did I do anything on the bad list today?"
What would your life look like if instead you asked "How did I fulfill the will of God today?"
What I believe you'll find is that if we switch our worldview to the second question we will be freed from those destructive sin habits that haunt us by virtue of our focus on being free to do what God desires.
Be blessed this weekend as you worship with your communities or as you celebrate a Sabbath rest. Peace.