Locating ourselves in God’s narrative

Bonhoeffer writes in Chapter 2 of Life Together that a fellowship of Christians should engage in “consecutive reading” of the Bible, reading daily one chapter of the Old Testament and half a chapter of the New Testament, rather than reading brief selections of texts (though those have their place).  This “forces everyone who wants to hear to put himself, or to allow himself to be found, where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of men” (53).  This changes the usual need to feel that God is present:

A complete reversal occurs.  It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved, but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ.  It is in fact more important for us to know what God did Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what intends for us today.  The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised on the Last Day.  Our salvation is “external to ourselves.”  I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ.  Only he who allows himself to be found in Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, his Cross, and his resurrection, is with God and God with him.

In this light the whole devotional reading of the Scriptures becomes daily more meaningful and salutary.  What we call our life, our troubles, our guilt, is by no means all of reality; there in the Scriptures is our life, our need, our guilt, and our salvation.  Because it pleased God to act for us there, it is only there that we shall be saved.  Only in the Holy Scriptures do we learn to know our own history.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God and Father of Jesus Christ and our Father. (54)


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