Bonhoeffer On Being a Visionary

Most Protestants seem to love Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Yet, it’s surprising how few live and think like him. One quote in my reading of Life Together was truly revolutionary in light of current Church Leadership wisdom.

“God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious.” – Bonhoeffer, Life Together pg. 27.

In other words, do you have a dream for how the Church should be? Do have a wish to form it in your image? Do you want everyone else to worship like you do? What is your biggest frustration with the way a Church works?

Most of us, if we think hard enough, could answer the last question with more than one grievance. But how does that connect with the other questions? Most of our frustrations can come from this visionary dreaming which says, “I have the right idea of worship,” which is saying, “I understand God and what He wants better than others.” It’s a very heartbreaking place to be, since God is not afraid of breaking someone’s vision if it does not match His.

Another point is that this community is monotone and static. If you made the community value every thing that you valued, you would not be challenged with new things or things of change that you might need. Maybe you need to switch from contemporary to traditional every once in a while. Maybe you need a off-the-cuff prayer instead of a prayer book today. Whatever the case, community brings change and good. The reason is that God is over this community. His Spirit is working through us and changing us.

Another point that is different from this is that the visionary dreaming could be considered trying to be equal God, since the values of the self can override the values of God.

Our ideals are faulty, just like Adam and Eve in the garden. We can have a vision and it be the same as they who thought God’s greatness could be matched by them. This just cannot happen and will lead us to the same heartbreaking reality that Adam and Eve were exiled to.

Christian community is brotherhood (equality) and is fully under God (submission). So envisioning a reality that is not yet is not the same as living the reality that God has already established.

What have you done to set up your own ideal? What have you done to submit to God’s reality? What is challenging and changing you?