Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday morning Bonhoeffer

As many of us return to work after a Sabbath rest, here are some good thoughts from DB on the rhythm of prayer and work in the life of a Christian. He reminds us that the One who bids a man to "come and die" also "bids him work."

After the first morning hour the Christian's day until evening belongs to work. "Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening" (Ps. 104:23). In most cases the Christian family fellowship will separate for the duration of the working day. Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer. Just as it was God's will that man should work six days and rest and make holy day in His presence on the seventh, so it is also God's will that every day should be marked for the Christian by both prayer and work. Prayer is entitled to its time. But the bulk of the day belongs to work. And only where each receives its own specific due will it become clear that both belong inseparably together. Without the burden and labor of the day, prayer is not prayer, and without prayer work is not work. This only the Christian knows. Thus, it is precisely in the clear distinction between them that their oneness becomes manifest.

Work plunges men into the world of things. The Christian steps out of the world of brotherly encounter into the world of impersonal things, the "it"; and this new encounter frees him for objectivity; for the "it"-world is only an instrument in the hand of God for the purification of Christians from all self-centeredness and self-seeking. The work of the world can be done only where a person forgets himself, where he loses himself in a cause, in reality, the task, the "it." In work the Christian learns to allow himself to be limited by the task, and thus for him the work becomes a remedy against the indolence and sloth of the flesh. The passions of the flesh die in the world of things. But this can happen only where the Christian breaks through the "it" to the "Thou," which is God, who bids him work and makes that work a means of liberation from himself.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (pp. 69-70)


Patty said...

Hi there. I landed at your site due to the Nielsen blog entry; google sends me little alerts when it spots certain words. Hope you don't mind the comment.

I'm a Christian. I'm also a professional musician. You can guess, I'm sure, that my Monday morning doesn't exactly begin with work. I rarely begin work in the morning and finish in the evening. I'm assuming Bonheoffer would understand, though. Hope so!

But hey, according to many I don't "work" ... I only "play" ;-)

Stephen Ley said...

Don't mind it at all! I'm always pleasantly surpised at the ways people "land" here.

I'm sure Bonhoeffer would understand and approve of your callings. He was a lover of music (esp. Bach) and a pretty good piano player in his own right.

Patty said...


I now have you bookmarked, and look forward to reading more.