I just finished reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That book challenged my thinking on what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Even more, it got me thinking about the church in a different way. I just began a new book, Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne. Based on what I’ve read so far, I think this is going to be a very helpful book.
The basic premise of the book is that we have lost our identity. We think of ourselves as Christians and there is much baggage surrounding that label. I think identity is important and if I identify myself as a Christian then I have a tendency to look to other Christians to see how I’m doing. This book proposes an option. What if my identity was in Christ. What if I saw myself as a child of God already united with Christ in a very real way. This is the identify that Paul uses in his letters to us. Paul never uses the term Christian in any of his writing.
Of all the good news the gospel brings, the greates–and indeed the door to all the rest–is that you cxan be united to Christ. It’s really possible. Union with Christ is not an abstract idea. It is a powerful reality. And if Jesus has joine his life to yours, then you have been given everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). But unless you are united to him, all that he has done for you remains useless and of no value to you. — Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne
This is where imagination comes in and why I struggled to understand some of Bonhoeffer’s writing. I’m a very visual person. If I can see something then I think I can understand it. If what I’m trying to understand is not visible, then I struggle to understand. That is what imagination is for. I need the ability to create an image in my mind of something that is not visible. Children do this easily. Maybe this is why I enjoy reading fiction. It challenges me to create images to see the people and places I’m reading about. Bonhoeffer was painting images with words, but I struggled to create them in my own mind so that I could see them.
I’m hoping this book will help me understand Bonhoeffer better. More important will be to better understand how God sees me and how He expects me to see myself in Him.
On a practical note, the fires are still raging in and around Santa Rosa. Even if we were home we could not return to our house. It is going to take much imagination for all of us who live in Santa Rosa to see what our city can become after it recovers from this devastation. For now, the reality is overwhelming and it seems like the task ahead of us is impossible. It is not. Others have faced similar devastation and built something great. My hope and prayer is that we can work together to do the same.