Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Overcoming Fear

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Shortly before Hitler came to power, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on fear. It was a volatile time in Germany and Bonhoeffer wanted the people to hear a message from Christ on a subject that affected them all. He began his sermon with these words,

The Bible, the gospel, Christ, the church, the faith – all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives of human beings. Fear is, somehow or other, the archenemy itself. It crouches in people’s hearts. It hollows out their insides, until their resistance and strength are spent and they suddenly break down. Fear secretly gnaws and eats at all the ties that bind a person to God and to others, and when in a time of need that person reaches for those ties and clings to them, they break and the individual sinks back into himself or herself, helpless and despairing, while hell rejoices.

He went on to say,

But the human being doesn’t have to be afraid; we should not be afraid! That is what makes us different from all other creatures. In the midst of every situation where there is no way out, where nothing is clear, where it is our fault, we know that there is hope, and this hope is called: Thy will be done, yes, thy will is being done. ‘This world must fall, God stands above all, his thoughts unswayed, his Word unstayed, his will forever our ground and hope.’ Do you ask: How do you know? Then we name the name of the One who makes the evil inside us recoil, who makes fear and anxiety themselves tremble with fear and puts them to flight. We name the One who overcame fear and led it captive in the victory procession, who nailed it to the cross and committed it to oblivion; we name the One who is the shout of victory of humankind redeemed from the fear of death – Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Living One. He alone is Lord over fear; it knows him as its master; it gives way to him alone. So look to Christ when you are afraid, think of Christ, keep him before your eyes, call upon Christ and pray to him, believe that he is with you now, helping you…Then fear will grow pale and fade away, and you will be free, through your faith in our strong and living Savior, Jesus Christ.

We may not face the same fears as the Germans did during the rise of Hitler, but nonetheless we all face fear in our lives. We would do good to heed the advice of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and turn to Christ when we feel fear beginning to take over. Our faith in Christ is the answer to any and all fears we might face.

The excerpts above were taken from The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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