The kind of embracing of Christ that Bonhoeffer talks about is that we live for others in a sacrificial, loving way. As I said in the beginning, Bonhoeffer declared that “the church is the church only when it exists for others.”
In the days when Bonhoeffer preached, he was stirred by this truth, this "Christo-ecclesiology". He saw clearly that the church must have Jesus at the center and that the church must have room for the Jesus who suffers. In the outline for the book he never wrote, Bonhoeffer also spoke of Jesus the crucified as the model for us. As the crucified one, Jesus suffered rejection. Even as the crucified one, Jesus came and lived for others. As the crucified one, Jesus, having lived a sacrificial life of love for others, died a sacrificial death in love for others. This served as both the basis for and the model of living the Christian life and Bonhoeffer's theology of spirituality.
He wrote much of this thought in his book "The Cost of Discipleship." The book could not be clearer. “Discipleship is commitment to Christ." Christ calls, we follow. That much is straightforward, even easy. The doing of it is another story. Bonhoeffer leads us to the Sermon on the Mount and the difficulties in the simple command to follow Christ. Bonhoeffer places huge emphasis on Christ’s imperative: we must, like Christ, take up our cross and share in his suffering. He explains what this entails. “The first Christ-suffering that everyone has to experience is the call which summons us away from our attachments to this world. It is the death of the old self in the encounter with Jesus Christ.” This death, though, is the beginning of our life, our life in Christ. Second, this following of Christ in his suffering leads us into our everyday battles with temptation and our daily struggles with sin and satan.
He then offers words of comfort. “Christian suffering is not disconcerting, Instead, it is nothing but grace and joy." Christ not only suffered, but bore the suffering on the cross. In his bearing of the suffering, he triumphed over it. Bonhoeffer puts it plainly, “His cross is the triumph over suffering.” We are called to such a life. We follow Christ “under the cross.”
For Bonhoeffer, living the Christian life begins with Christ, with his call to discipleship, with the cross. We live in Christ. We live from the cross. “We are the church beneath the cross.”
I've been truly challenged by Diedrich's life - his theology in action - his compassion, his courage and his way of thinking. I may not agree with everything he believed and his every interpretation of the scriptures - but who am I? Diedrich demands respect and an audience...and for one would love to spend some good quality time with this Disciple of Jesus one day. I have nothing else to say, except "Wow".