Though my sinful heart often speaks otherwise, I’m trying to see our second nationwide lockdown as a gift. With less commuting and fewer face-to-face meetings, I’m praying for the discipline to finish April Wilson’s German Quickly during this season (although only half the title is true!). For motivation, convicting reading and translation practice, I’m also hoping to read sections of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Nachfolge” [The Cost of Discipleship] – you can read about why it’s a worthwhile Christian classic here. I’ll post my translations here along with some thoughts. Fluent German speakers are welcome to correct my grammar mistakes; otherwise feel free to join in and share how Bonhoeffer’s words challenge you to go deeper into following Jesus!

Es stellt sich in Zeiten der kirchlichen Erneuerung von selbst ein, daß uns die Heilige Schrift reicher wird. Hinter den notwendigen Tages — und Kampfparolen der kirchlichen Auseinandersetzung regt sich ein stärkeres Suchen und Fragen nach dem, um den es allein geht, nach Jesus selbst.

It arises naturally that during times of church renewal, that the Holy Scriptures become richer for us. Behind the necessary day-to-day and battle slogans of the church confrontation, stirs in oneself a stronger search and questions about Him, whom [this battle] is all about; about Jesus himself.

[W: Bonhoeffer wrote Nachfolge, his most well-known book, under the shadow of a Nazi regime which divided the church in Germany. Some in the Protestant church kowtowed to Hitler’s demands for a “German Christian” church. Bonhoeffer and others sided with the “Confessing Church” that refused to baptise the Nazi government’s anti-Jewish demands. Maybe it is in times of trial – a pandemic, perhaps – that God’s Word becomes richer for us.]

Was hat Jesus uns sagen wollen?
Was will er heute von us?
Wie hilft er uns dazu, heute treue Christen zu sein?

What does Jesus want to say to us?
What does He want from us today?
How does He help us, today, to be faithful Christians?

Nicht was dieser oder jener Mann der Kirche will, ist un zuletzt wichtig, sondern was Jesus will, wollen wir wissen. Sein eigenes Wort wollen wir hören, wenn wir zur Predigt gehen. Daran liegt uns nicht nur um unsertwillen, sondern auch um all der vielen willen, denen die Kirche und ihre Botschaft fremnd ge-worden ist.

In the end, [it is] not what this or that man [in] the church wants, [that’s] important. But what Jesus wants, we wish to know. His own word we wish to hear, when we go to the sermon. This is important (lit: lies) not only for our sake(?), but for the sake of all the many, to whom the Church and their message has become foreign.

[W: Imagine going to church and hearing the preacher say “To be a good Christian is to honour and magnify the Nazi regime.” Or “The Bible teaches us to despise Jewish people.” That’s the situation that Germans faced in a state church that had capitulated to the Nazi party’s requirements. How tempting but spiritually deadly it is to turn a church a soapbox where we worship our own political and moral convictions! We must make each sermon about what Jesus wants us to know. We must seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt 6:33). Our hope should not be in governments or regimes, but in the risen Christ, who was, and is, and is to come.]