Denmark, Bonhoeffer and Telling the Truth
September 30, 2010 Denmark has been wonderful so far. Our concerts have been well received and despite the language barrier, I think people are really understanding what I’m trying to share. That’s really good news cause my Danish is absolutely horrible. Really. Could be the most difficult language I’ve ever tried to speak.
Sprinkled into our week of concerts have been these “pseudo shows” that I do during the afternoon hours at Denmark boarding schools. They feel more like speaking engagements than concerts. Basically, for one hour the whole school (predominantly 14-18 year olds and teachers) come into the lecture hall and hear from a real American recording artist, a.k.a Yours Truly ; ). Though the schools are Christian based, they are not deeply focused on the Gospel. So many of these kids, most actually, are professing non-Christians. Some of the teachers aren’t even believers themselves (which is kinda funny seeing as it’s a Christian school!).
So for the past 2 days I have gone and spoke/played for these students. I understood that a gospel presentation would be in order so the first day I psyched myself up about my Danish mission field. I spent time thinking, working, crafting the most compelling gospel presentation I could. Something that would really connect with them. Words that would stir their affections for God. Analogies that would enlighten them and compel them toward the cross. I thought and thought and then it was finally time to speak. It bombed.
It could have been that these kids couldn’t have cared less that there was an American there to speak to them. It certainly showed on their faces. But I think ultimately I failed because I didn’t let the gospel be the gospel. If only I would have heeded the wisdom of Bonhoeffer.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who believed that Truth could stand on it’s own two legs. A German preacher and teacher in the 1930’s and 40’s, Bonhoeffer had a powerful ministry to his people, being a lone voice of truth and sanity in an otherwise truth-less and ruthless Nazi controlled Germany. To be sure though, Bonhoeffer’s “power” as a teacher of God’s word was not because of his charisma. His sermons often felt much more like collegiate lectures than rousing gospel messages. He spoke with clarity and authority, but he did not lean on the crutch of rhetoric to win his audiences. He let the Truth of God’s Word do all the work. He was a firm believer that a congregation ought not believe a message just because the speaker was clever in his emotional manipulation tactics. It seems Dietrich Bonoeffer stood as judge over me yesterday as I spoke to those students.
This morning, I sat with God’s Word and let it do it’s convicting work on me. It worked…real well. Here is what I read:
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with loft speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
If the biggest stud in Christendom didn’t rely on cleverness of speech but the power of the Spirit to persuade his audiences, I would be a fool to not follow in his steps. So, this afternoon I had a second chance to make things right. I stood in front of another group of Danish high schoolers and shared the simple gospel. It felt clumsy, but honest. As best as I could, I let the Lord do the talking. I don’t know what was done in the hearts of the students today in that room, but in my own heart I found peace knowing that, if any were to come to faith in Christ today, their faith would not “rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Thanks to my patient King who kindly corrects me every step of the way. May I forever resolve to know nothing among people except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.