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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Life Together

Updated on February 29, 2016

Dietrich Bonheoffer: Background

Dietrich Bonheoffer was born in Germany in 1906 and died in a concentration camp in 1945. Bonheoffer grew up in Germany and fled to England when Hitler rose into power. Bonheoffer continued to speak out and write against the actions of the Reich. He was a minister who decided that while he was a pacifist he could not as a Christian stand back and watch Hitler destroy Germany. When he returned to Germany he was captured and put in many different camps where he continued to serve the Lord by preaching and ministering to those in the camps. He was always seen as happy and improved the general atmosphere of the camps. When he was killed, he had just finished his Sunday sermon and two men came into the church and asked Bonheoffer to walk with them. He went to the gallows before he could be freed, and died as a martyr against the Reich of Hitler. His life taught many people what it means to be fully devoted to God and that we can have Christian fellowship wherever we are. Sometimes the darkest times bring out the most light, and Bonheoffer spoke openly about the need for Christian living, Christian fellowship and also the need for everyone to celebrate the life they have together in his book Life Together.

Life Together

Bonheoffer’s book helps people understand the value of living with other Christians. There are people in many parts of the world, especially in Bonheoffer’s time, where having five minutes with a fellow believer was a life time of support. Too often people take for granted the freedom we have in the United States and this book really helps bring some of those up front and center.

Bonheoffer also helps people understand it is the simple acts of kindness that can mean the most to others. There is so much power in what we do for people, even when it seems simple to us. Praying for another person, sitting down with another person and reading through some scripture, or even talking about what each person believes about God can help bring people together and allow them to feel the love God offers us each and every day. There is no chance encounter with another Christian, or another person for that matter, and each of those encounters can be something great or a missed opportunity. Bonheoffer tried to make every encounter one of grace and love, allowing each person he encountered, especially in the concentration camps, to know they have been blessed and are loved.

We are asked to comfort each other, work with each other and pray for each other. The task of living this life and following God’s desire for how to live our lives can be very difficult at times. However, there is very little in our lives today that can compare to the challenges faced in World War II and living in fear of death every day in a concentration camp. This atmosphere changed many people’s view of the world, yet it only strengthened Bonheoffer’s desire to serve and help those who needed to feel they were not alone in living a Christian life.

The main theme of the book is to live in a right relationship with God by living with each other in a loving and caring manner. Not to take anything for granted, and especially to take time, even five minutes, to be with another Christian each and every day. The power of two or more people gathering together for the purpose of expressing their love for God is amazing. Each time we gather together we can also use the time to open up, allow ourselves to be vulnerable in a safe environment and see others in a like condition. Knowing we are all similar in our desires and hopes, our fears and concerns, also helps bring people closer together, so long as they take the time to express all of these to someone who will listen without criticizing, hear without turning it into gossip, and simply being present for another human being.

Thoughts about the book

This book helped me see many of life’s comforts that I currently take for granted. Being a minister, I do not fear the government coming into my church after a service and taking my life from me. I do not fear meeting and praying with people I care about. I have no reason to watch what I say or fear who I talk to. There is quite a bit in our culture that seems to be anti-Christian or anti-religious, yet we still have some basic understanding that people are different and that is okay. Even if we do not agree with everything we believe, we can still accept each other in a human way, allowing everyone to think, act, and question in their own way without insulting or attacking them. This is a great book, geared to those who are Christian, but still opens the mind to how lucky we truly are to be in the world we are currently in.  Yes the world could be different, I won’t go so far as to say better, but I think I will take more time to just be grateful to all the blessings in my life. A loving family, a caring church, and the knowledge that God loves me and all those around me equally.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to see the world as a better place. A person who desires to understand there is good and we can enjoy the time we can spend with friends and fellow believers. This book is Christian, and it will build your faith and push you towards serving others because you will realize just how blessed you really are.

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    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 

      9 years ago

      You are absolutely correct. We are, indeed, a blessed people. And, I believe that among the greatest blessings in the world is true, open, ecumenical dialogue. It warms my heart. I, by the way, have a soft spot for Presbyterian ministers in rural areas. It was just one of those who drew my mother back to the Lord during her later years in life - he later became a Methodist minister, and she followed him into the denomination.

      I am Catholic and spent three years in religious formation to become a nun. When I told my mother that's what I was doing, she replied - "Well, of course." :-)

      I left after initial formation and am now happily married. The Lord's first answer to my prayer for a husband was to draw me to Himself to prepare me for the man He had made for me.

      Nice to follow and meet you. Peace!

    • Rev. Akins profile imageAUTHOR

      Rev. Akins 

      9 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      I will have to look her up then. Boenhoffer's book was very moving for me. It helped me to see the beauty in the simple life, and the wonder that is being able to do what you want when you want to. We are a blessed people, and so few people acknowledge or understand how blessed we are. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 

      9 years ago

      Rev. Akins, this is a great review. I know a very little bit about Boenhoeffer, and have always found him to be a very holy presence in an unholy time. You've done him justice in this hub, and I am now anxious to learn more about him. Another extraordinary Christian of that time was Corrie Ten Boom, a beautiful Dutch Christian woman. You might also find her inspiring.

      Peace!

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