Persecution and Discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who lived in the early part of the 20th century. He was a vocal opponent of the Nazis and of Adolph Hitler. He was arrested by the Gestapo in April of 1943, imprisoned for nearly two years, and was executed by the Nazis on April 9, 1945 just two weeks before the Allied Forces liberated the camp where he had been unjustly held. Bonhoeffer is perhaps best known for his books, one of which was The Cost of Discipleship, and also for the many letters that he wrote during the days of his imprisonment. He once wrote:

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.”

Because the kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies, persecution is a reality for the followers of Jesus. Because His followers carry His name, they gladly embrace the shame that goes with it in the eyes of the world. In the last Beatitude, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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