". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


From Today's Treasury of Daily Prayer, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

It is not we who build. [Christ] builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess--he builds. We must proclaim--he builds. We must pray to him--that he may build.

We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down.

It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don't ask for judgments. Don't always be calculating what will happen. Don't always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.

I know these words are concerned with building the church. And indeed, they are a good reminder to those who look to the visible and tangible aspects of a church--the fancy building or top notch staff or great programs or perfect practice--as evidence of the church's health and strength. But I think these words about the church can be applied equally to the individual in his everyday life. If you are anything like me, you could benefit from reading this passage on a daily basis. For if you are anything like me, you love nothing better than to think you are in control. You spend endless hours calculating, planning, and trying to ensure things work out as you think they ought. Yet what so often happens is that the thing you have worked so hard to build crumbles before your eyes, and all those opinions and judgments and calculations come to naught. The comforting reminder here is that even when that happens, God is in charge. He is always building. When we think things are at their most hopeless, that is when He is hardest at work, drawing up the blueprint for His next work of art. And conversely, when we think we have produced something that is untouchable, we find that its shiny exterior belies the rot within. My prayer for myself this day, and for you, dear reader, is that even in the face of the constant and unrelenting setbacks of this life, we might take encouragement from the blessing of vocation: "Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough." I am enough and you are enough because we are in Christ, and Christ is always enough. So take heart and rest, and let Him build.


mz said...

I wish blogger had a like button. Excellent reminder and sorely needed.

Phillip said...

This would be the accurate way of saying, "You didn't build that!" (couldn't' resist) :)

Leah said...

I always appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Thank you.

(Haha! Good one Phillip ;)