Being Interrupted by God

God has graciously transplanted each of us into the one body of Christ. We’re a family now. Like it works in any family, we have responsibilities to one another. Dietrich Bonhoeffer identifies one of them as active helpfulness:

This means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service. One who worries about the loss of time that such petty, outward acts of helpfulness entail is usually taking the importance of his own career too solemnly.

Here’s the difficulty, though: active helpfulness is taxing on our time and resources. That’s hard for even the most sanctified among us! But check out the way Bonhoeffer links this challenging call with how God wants to shape our lives around the cross and work out his purposes in us:

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks… When we do that we pass the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart in our path to show us that, not our way, but God’s way must be done. It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them…

They do not want a life that is crossed and balked. But it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.

Allowing ourselves to be expended for one another has a benefit that works in two directions: it blesses those in need and works Christ-like humility in those who help.