The Soul of the Unbeliever

Working my way through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship again. Today, this passage struck me:

“Disciple and non-disciple can never encounter each other as free men, directly exchanging their views and judging one another by objective criteria.”

Exactly. The world in which the believer lives looks completely different from the one the unbeliever inhabits, even though it is the same world. Objectivity is not possible for either party because common reference points have disappeared. It is as though we are standing in different countries, on opposite sides of a depthless chasm.

Can the unbeliever reach the believer? No. He does not speak the language of the strange country in which Jesus’s disciples stand. He knows no landmarks, has no map.

Most importantly, though, it is not his job. It is ours.

Bonhoeffer continues:

“[T]he disciple can meet the non-disciple only as a man to whom Jesus comes. Here alone Christ’s fight for the soul of the unbeliever, his call, his love, his grace and his judgment, comes into its own. Discipleship does not afford us a point of vantage from which to attack others; we come to them with an unconditional offer of fellowship, with the single-mindedness of the love of Jesus.”

Today, the world often sees Christians as enemies. Sadly, it is a title many of us have earned. Let us go forward now not as enemies but emissaries. As mediators, not judges. Carrying our own crosses —and the Cross, the only bridge that can close the gap.




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