1 Samuel 24

When Should You Fight Evil with Evil?

When Should You Fight Evil with Evil?

One of my Christian heroes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I even asked my wife if we could name our son Dietrich. For some reason she didn’t like that idea. Go figure.

Bonhoeffer is a fascinating figure for all sorts of reasons, but one of those is that his ministry took place during the rise of Nazism in Germany. Born into an upper-middle class family in Germany and studying at some of finest schools, he ended up rejecting the German national church, which was controlled by the Nazi party. Instead he threw his energy behind the Confession Church, a church that resisted the Nazi party.

Ultimately Dietrich Bonhoeffer would do more than theologically resist the Nazi party; he would actively participate in helping Jews escape and would ultimately be party to an assassination plot against Adolf Hitler.[i]

Although, for obvious reasons, Bonhoeffer never discussed the plot nor his reasons for the decision, it is clear in his letters that he expended a lot of energy working through what his ethical responsibilities were throughout the war. Those who believe he participated in the assassination conspiracy point to his words in Ethics where he says, “the structure of responsible action includes both readiness to accept guilt and freedom.”[ii] Is Bonhoeffer saying that there are times where following Christ means that we might actually be called into guilt (and therefore to sin)?

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 4

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 4

When you think of godly leaders, King David is in rarified air. He is, after all the famed slayer of Goliath, the one who was known as “the man after God’s own heart” and the greatest king in Israel’s history. His life seemed directionless from a human perspective, but every step had incredible purpose. There is no King David without his journey.

As a young man, David had the oil from Samuel’s horn poured out over his head and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”[i] It was within a few years that David would defeat Goliath and be promised Saul’s daughter in marriage. Surely he must have thought that his ascension to the throne was near. But as things so often are in God’s economy, it would be many years before David would sit on the throne.[ii] David would go from the rising star of Israel, whom the people sung about in the streets, to fleeing, to exile, wandering with his motley band across the hostile terrain of Palestine. And while so many years had passed, he twice refused to take the life of the man who not only sought his life, but blocked his anointing.[iii]    

What must have sustained David for these long years was not only the presence of God, but also God’s purpose for him. Even as he ran for his life, he speaks of his trust and his purpose, “But the king [referring to himself, who wasn’t yet king] shall rejoice in God.” So it is with the power of a purposeful spiritual life for us. When we know and understand the identity and purposes God has placed on our lives, it sustains us through tremendous difficulty, which is also God’s purpose.

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

For my birthday my wife took me out on a hike. We enjoyed the beautiful Arizona morning, winding our way up into the foothills of the Catalina Mountains through the lush Sonoran desert landscape. We went on a well-traveled trail toward our destination: pools tucked into the Catalina foothills, 2.8 miles from the trailhead.

As inexperienced hikers who hadn’t hiked the trail in some 20 years, we overestimated our progress and asked multiple passersby how far away the pools were. It shouldn’t take this long to go 2.8 miles, right? Our legs grew heavy and my wife wondered if we had made a wrong turn. Maybe we should just turn around?

Finally we crested over a hill and below us lay the pools below. Our pace quickened with the pools in view and the final 15 minutes sped by. We relaxed on sun-bathed boulders, ate a snack, took some pictures, and then headed back. Knowing the terrain now and having a much better sense of how far the 2.8 mile destination was, there were no moments of confusion or frustration. The trail seemed to melt quickly behind us and we arrived back at the trail head quickly.

Knowing your destination changes your hike.