“Love one another.” (John 13:34)
This is Christian love: Behaving in such a way that one’s actions are beneficial to
By that definition, love can be something simple, such as holding a door for someone
who is carrying a package or putting a few coins into a red kettle at Christmas. Love can also be
something sacrificial and heroic, such as placing yourself at peril in order to rescue a child from
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who resisted Hitler during
World War II. Bonhoeffer, in his writings, described Jesus as a “Man for others.” Jesus had
earned that appellation by living for others and, ultimately, dying for others. As He lived and
taught, Jesus showed us a better way to live. As he died, He demonstrated that we are forgiven.
As He was raised from the dead, He gave us hope. “A Man for others” is certainly an accurate
way to describe Jesus Christ. Christ showed us what love is.
Christ expects His followers to be extraordinary. In the Sermon on the Mount, which is
the ethical statement of the Kingdom of God, Jesus challenged His disciples to turn the other
cheek, go the extra mile, and to pray for those who persecute them. Those are extraordinary
things to do. People do not normally do those things – not normally, that is, unless they are
motivated by the love of Christ and empowered by the Spirit of God.
The world sets the norm for human behavior. Christ places the bar a bit higher. To love
one another is a higher standard. Christians are called to be extraordinary.
Because Dietrich Bonhoeffer resisted the Nazis and their barbaric regime, he was
incarcerated. He ran afoul of the Nazis by helping to establish a group of churches which
refused to be puppets of Hitler; he founded a secret seminary to train pastors to be faithful
witness to Jesus Christ; he served the causes of freedom and justice by operating as a spy; he
even supported an ill-fated conspiracy, the members of which planted a bomb to kill Hitler.
As Bonhoeffer was in prison, he continued to serve as a pastor even to his fellow
inmates. He brought to them, and even the guards, the good news of Jesus Christ. He gave
them comfort and hope. One day, as the German army was nearing defeat and the Third Reich
was collapsing, Bonhoeffer was conducting worship for his fellow prisoners. A guard entered
the room. He summoned Bonhoeffer. The pastor was led away, and he was hung.
Following the example of Christ, Bonhoeffer lived an extraordinary life. He, too, was a
“Man for others.” He demonstrated Christian love.
Consider your life.
Is it extraordinary?
Are you an example of Christian love?