I’ve been thinking about Benjamin Myers comments on the nature of discernment. Drawing on Bonhoffer he says that..
Discernment is not an exercise of ecclesiastical power; it is not an expression of the church’s superior vantage point. Rather discernment opens the church to judgment. […] It is an act of humiliating obedience; it is a dangerous and necessary enactment of the church’s confession—the confession that the church has nothing of itself, and everything from Jesus Christ.
He points to the young German’s discernment of the life of Christ in the teaching and actions of the Hindu, Gandhi.
In this surprising place, Bonhoeffer discerns the work of Christ. And this discernment is simultaneously an experience of judgment. The authentic ‘Christianity’ of a Hindu community becomes a mirror in which the western church perceives its own profligacy and degradation. Bonhoeffer does not wish to become a Hindu, nor is he interested in anything resembling interfaith dialogue. It is rather his exclusive commitment to Christ that drives him to Gandhi. He discerns Christ’s way in Gandhi; while the church crumbles to ruins all around him, Bonhoeffer perceives Jesus Christ living and active in India, and so he resolves to seek Christ there, to learn from the ‘heathens’ what it means to become a disciple of Christ.
Today, I came upon this story. Please read it!
American civil religion has twisted sport towards the anti-gospel ends of consumption, personal dominance and self-glorification. What a helpful reminder to see the Holy Spirit at work in even such a place, and a humbling lesson that I have little business talking judgmentally about ‘such places.’
Glory to you, Lord Christ, for the life of the world! It is in you that we live and move and have our being!