One of the great tragedies in Christianity has been a divide between the sacred and the secular. It’s a mistake to think God cares about our religious life but doesn’t give a rip about the rest of it. God makes us alive in Christ and the Holy Spirit regenerates and gives us a new spiritual and eternal life. That life begins here and now and is lived in our real human bodies in the midst of our everyday, ordinary lives in this world.
I was raised going to church, saying the Apostles’ Creed every week, and affirming my belief in the Trinity. I knew God loved me and Jesus died for my sins, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of the Holy Spirit. I understood that God wanted me to be a good person, but I thought it was up to me and my effort. The problem was that I knew I didn’t have the power to change myself. It was in college that I first began to understand more deeply who the Holy Spirit is and his role in believers’ lives.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the Christians who stands out in the 20th century. He was living comfortably in American and teaching at Union Seminary in New York when the ominous storms clouds of the Third Reich changed everything. He returned to Germany and became a leader in the newly formed “confessing Church.” Biographer Eberhard Bethge described Bonhoeffer as “that fighter on behalf of the First Commandment against the idolatrous syncretism of his time and of our time as well; the composer of devout prayers and inspiring sermons; the fascinating author of spiritual literature; the exciting writer of letters from prison, the sophisticated analyst of the Christian situation in the post-enlightenment era; the witness to faith in Jesus Christ both now in the future.”