Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and a participant in the German resistance movement against Nazism. He was involved in plots planned by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was arrested in March 1943, imprisoned and eventually hanged, just before the end of the Second World War in Europe. I have lately been enjoying Bonhoeffer’s classic work The Cost of Discipleship, written at the height of his conflict with Nazi ideology and with the compromising German church.
In Deuteronomy 6:5-7 we are reminded that we cannot teach what we don’t know. We are told first, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (5), and then we are instructed to teach God’s Word diligently to our children (7). You cannot teach your children (or friends, or co-workers, or others you have opportunity to disciple) to love what you do not love yourself.
Our goal when speaking to other Christians or unbelievers, Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:15, is not to “debunk every belief you have.” It is to share the truth in love. The difference in these two ends should therefore lead to very different means, as well.