Wer bin ich?
“Therefore I have set my face like a flint….” (Isaiah 50:7). The prophet is speaking of God’s Suffering Servant who has embarked upon His course, never to turn back. The Lord Jesus “steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Later, His servant Paul did the same thing. Although aware that bonds and afflictions awaited him, he said “But none of these things move me” (Acts 20:34). He had set his face.
Elsewhere Paul tells us, “This one thing I do” (Philippians 3:13). Paul has decided to forget the things that are in the past. There is only one thing we can do with the past: learn what lessons there are to be learned, then forget it and decide to reach for those things that are ahead.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was another man who had made up his mind on “this one thing.” That decision brought all other things in his life into their proper place. He set his face like a flint and paid the price of obedience. Like John the Baptist, there was a day when he ended up languishing in prison and finally dying a violent death. It was not given John or Dietrich to perform miracles. But one thing could be said of these rugged prophets: everything they said about our Lord was true. They bore a faithful and consistent testimony.
A poem Bonhoeffer wrote from prison has stuck with me like hard tack through the years. I apologize for not translating it, but there is something about reading it in the original (if one is able) that speaks to the heart. It reminds me that the greatest work of the church is not the occasional burst of the miraculous, but the day-in and day-out testimony of Christian living in the mediocre and the monotonous. It is a reminder that God puts highest value on plain faithfulness that speaks and lives the truth about His Son, whatever the price. And that is a valuable lesson indeed.
October 30, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. He is currently finishing his latest book, Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.