Sunday, April 26, 2009

Afterwords--Take Off Your Prison Clothes

"This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life." These were the words Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke to an English officer and fellow prisoner as two men arrived to lead him away on the day before he was executed. Bonhoeffer had previously written, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
The prison doctor later wrote of observing him on the day of his execution, "Through the half-open door of a room in one of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, still in prison clothes, kneeling in fervent prayer to the Lord his God. The devotion and evident conviction of being heard that I saw in the prayer of this intensely captivating man, moved me to the depths."

Long before that early morning when he was ordered to strip naked and walk to the gallows where he would be hanged for his participation in the resistance movement against Hitler's Nazi regime, Bonhoeffer had already laid down his life. Being stripped of his prison clothes, facing injustice, facing death itself was not nearly so daunting for a man who had already crossed what Craig Groeschel calls the Third Line of Faith. That's the line where one moves past loving Christ enough to benefit from Him (1st Line) or even contribute comfortably to Him (2nd Line) to loving Him enough to lay down your life and follow Him where he has already death.
What do you need to be stripped of? What prison clothes are you desperately holding on to? Are you willing to take off those things peacefully, calmly, willingly...even joyfully as Bonhoeffer did, and make your way naked to the gallows with Christ? What part of your life are you still "leading" rather than simply following Christ? Cross the Third Line.

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