“Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him. He remembers the ambition of the first man who wanted to know what is good and evil and perished in his wisdom. The first man who was born on this earth was Cain, the fratricide. His crime is the fruit of man’s wisdom. Because the Christian can no longer fancy that he is wise he will also have no high opinion of his own schemes and plans. He will know that it is good for his own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbor. He will be ready to consider his neighbor’s will more important and urgent than his own. What does it matter if our own plans are frustrated? Is it not better to serve our neighbor than to have our own way?”Wow - these words are good news to me today. I tend to have a pretty high opinion about my own schemes and plans. I hate to admit it, but I generally want the Lord to do it my way. That's crazy, really. I know how fickle my plans are: they change according to my whims on a pretty regular basis. My pride and self-importance is sin on two levels: it denies Jesus his place as Lord in my life and it assumes that I know better than everyone else who might will something different. So, it's rebellion toward God and maybe an attempt at tyranny over humankind.
Another thing attracts me to Bonhoeffer's words. Humility is not passive, it's active. It doesn't imply willing nothing - as if being the constant doormat of the world were a virtue. (Lack of will - this seems to be cowardice more than anything else.) No, it's the willing sacrifice of my will, however good it seems to me, for the sake of my brother or sister. And humility is sacramental. Here the passion of Jesus, his great acting out of "not my will but Yours" merges into the gritty reality of my life. Who knew that disappointment of my own dreams and desires might actually be participation with Jesus Christ in a very real sense? It's hard to believe in our "may your dreams come true" world. But to meet Jesus in the dark corners of life where all other hope is extinguished by a broken will and discarded dreams - this is good news.