Rev. Dr. Homer Larsen
A LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS
This world, presented so darkly by the media, needs to be painted with light. Jesus says to the world, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). What a promise!
Jesus then gives us a challenge. In the same way he said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
That light, reflecting our personal relationship with Jesus, does not go unnoticed. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a light shining in the darkness. A theologian and pastor of the German people, Bonhoeffer pointed people to Jesus.
Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 of German parents. His father, the head of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Berlin, referred to himself as an agnostic. However, he gave full support to his wife, a confessing Christian, in training their eight children in the Christian faith.
Dietrich chose to study theology. Although his father was disappointed, he supported and encouraged his son in his chosen field. Dietrich studied at many prestigious universities and earned his doctor’s degree from the University of Berlin.
Dietrich was an intellectual genius with an outgoing personality. He loved people and had a strong evangelical spirit. He enjoyed young people and spent a good amount of time playing sports with them. However, he was soon aware that, if Adolph Hitler’s popularity continued to grow and he won the confidence of the German people to make them a strong nation, the spread of the Gospel just would not happen.
An example of Bonhoeffer resisting Nazism and Hitler is taken from the book, Bonhoeffer, written by Eric Metaxas: “He (Bonhoeffer) knew that no one could see things only through the eyes of faith, but they were no less real and true than the things one saw through his or her physical eyes. The eyes of faith had a moral component. To see that it was against God’s will to persecute the Jews, one must choose to open one’s eyes. And then one would face another uncomfortable choice: whether or not to act as God required. Bonhoeffer strove to show, and then to do, what God asked in response. That was the obedient Christian life, the call of the disciple. And it came with a cost, which explained why so many refused to open their eyes in the first place. To follow Nazism was contrary to the will of God.”
The Nazis could not stand this voice of God reaching out to the people. And so at Flossenburg concentration camp, Bonhoeffer was executed at dawn on April 9, 1945, in resistance against dictatorship and terror.
The doctor who reported on his death said, “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.” This was God’s light shining in a dark world through His servant.
We find evidence of that darkness all around us. Even the Church roams about in darkness as it departs from the Scriptures, which is its only authority in matters of faith and life. As you shine your light for the Kingdom, you can have an impact on others around you. The light of Christ not only illumines, it also has the power to transform others.
We know the truth. It has set us free and opened our eyes. That light is Jesus Christ and His Word.