A Bonhoeffer Moment


A Bonhoeffer moment is a time when a leader must make a decision to do something different that will cause him or her to be transformed. A leader is faced with a Bonhoeffer moment when doing the right thing is a hard thing, a disturbing thing, and a threatening thing. Bonhoeffer saw from the beginning that Hitler and his philosophy could not be supported or tolerated by the Christian faith, and he made a decision to stand against them. Contemporary Christian leaders face their own Bonhoeffer moments. It may be in regard to personal matters, such as telling the truth in conversations, or in regard to behind-the-scenes conduct—what we read, watch, and think. It is easy to compromise in small ways that don't seem to matter, but indeed they do, because small things are indicative of character. If a leader does not stand against the small evils, he or she is less likely to do so in the big moments.

Your Bonhoeffer moment may come on a more public scale. Bonhoeffer said that authentic Christianity protects the oppressed from the oppressor. Christianity without this kind of discipleship is Christianity without Christ. In our day, evil has been airbrushed and we have become desensitized to it, so we let it go. The most obvious evil in our day is abortion; Christians must continue to stand against it in word and deeds. Individuals need to speak against it, but so do churches and citizen organizations. The state continues to encroach on religious liberty, and it does so in the name of compassion and human rights. Whether it is forcing the church to pay for contraceptives or abridging a pastor's freedom to preach his conscience, beware of evil dressed up as kindness.

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The church is also selling out its primary mission of being and making disciples. This evil is less obvious and its results are not easily noticed because of the rare but noticeable success of large churches. It is not that the larger churches are the problem themselves; it is that they distract the easily impressed, unstudied mind of the Christian world. The sad result is that the general character of Christians is compromised, and, of course, compromised character compromises.

Of all the leaders in America, the most important are pastors. They are the last group of cultural teachers that remain a force for good. They are not strapped with limitations of government; they still have the freedom to teach and to act without restraint. For these three hundred thousand men and women in this country, this is a Bonhoeffer moment. It is time to step up and speak out, to commit their lives and people to a life of discipleship. For as Bonhoeffer said himself, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die." That is sacrificial leadership.

 Written by Bill Hull

 Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

 Photo by Anastasia Petrova on Unsplash