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Thoughts

Freedom.

Freedom consumes me.

So this seemed appropriate today. From Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, the chapter titled “Ministry.”

It is, first of all the freedom of the other person that is a burden to the Christian.  The other’s freedom collides with his own autonomy, yet he must recognize it. He could get rid of this burden by refusing the other person his freedom, by constraining him and thus doing violence to his personality, by stamping his own image upon him.  But if he lets God create his image in him, he by this token gives him his freedom and himself bears the burden of this freedom of another creature of God. The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us. To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and, in bearing with it, to break through to the point where we take joy in it.

 

Apologies for the lengthy quotation. But I needed to say that out loud and in print today.

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Freedom.

  1. This particular notion of freedom seems to be very restrictive

    Posted by watcher | September 1, 2012, 8:22 am
    • I fail to understand this comment.

      Posted by Jay Adams | September 1, 2012, 9:37 am
      • I thought you were applying this statement to your freedom. That is, I thought you were saying that your freedom depended on doing all these things to and for all other people. Thus, very restrictive to you.

        However, upon re-reading to see exactly what he was saying, I find that I get hopelessly lost in the pronouns and can’t find the meaning. Each pronoun could take on several different antecedents (can’t believe I remembered that word). Compounded over the seemingly endless repetition of pronoun after pronoun (I counted over 20 with potentially questionable antecedents) my lostness became irretrievable.

        Posted by watcher | September 6, 2012, 5:40 pm
  2. The wording here is no more complicated than that of the Declaration of Independence. If you rewrite it, substituting first person pronouns, here’s what you get:

    “It is, first of all the freedom of the other person that is a burden to [me]. The other’s freedom collides with [my] autonomy, yet [I] must recognize it. [I] could get rid of this burden by refusing the other person his freedom, by constraining him and thus doing violence to his personality, by stamping [my] own image upon him. But if [I] let God create his image in [me], [I] by this token gives [the other] his freedom and [myself] bear the burden of this freedom of another creature of God. The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to [my] patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us. To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and, in bearing with it, to break through to the point where [I] take joy in it.”

    And yes, I agree that it is very restrictive to me. In essence, it means that I must prefer the brother, that I must not presume to expect other believers to look like carbon copies of myself. As for the paradoxical nature of this “freedom,” it’s no more paradoxical than the Bible itself, which says things like “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you.”

    Posted by Jay Adams | September 7, 2012, 5:24 pm

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