Dietrich Bonhoeffer is justly honored as a remarkable and rare anti-Nazi Christian. As can be read elsewhere, he not only stood against Hitler's evil genocide and euthanasia programs, but he also took firm and decisive action to combat them. In 1933 and 1939 Bonhoeffer left Germany on various trips and could have remained abroad. But his conscience bothered him for having left at all at a time of terror in his nation. He decided he must be at home to make the terrible choices that had to be made, and to be an example to others of how to act when their nation had gone utterly mad and was seeking to "destroy civilization." Rather than save himself, he considered it a "privilege and honor" to suffer with the Jewish "brothers of Jesus Christ." He was murdered by the Nazis in 1945.
I am not a big fan of the term "martyr," for obvious reasons; but if anyone truly deserved that title in the good sense of the word, Bonhoeffer did.
Recently I came across this quotation from one of his many writings. It pertains to Christian community, but could be applicable to other types of community as well:
"The measure with which God gives the gift of visible community is varied. Christians who live dispersed from one another are comforted by a brief visit of another Christian, a prayer together, and another Christian's blessing. Indeed, they are strengthened by letters written by the hand of other Christians. Paul's greetings in his letters written in his own hand were no doubt tokens of such community. Others are given the gift on Sundays of the community of the worship service. Still others have the privilege of living a Christian life in the community of their families."
I noticed this because it stands in striking contrast to the opinions of some we know, who regard official congregational governmental structures as the only legitimate form of community.
It also stands in contrast, in general, to most religious people's obsession with imposing uniformity. This is manifest in rabbinic Judaism, in Messianic Judaism, in Christianity, and in other religions. It is something I have never been able to understand. If you say you believe in a God who created the universe, why not take a look around you and see what he created?! One of the most obvious and striking features of Creation is an incredible diversity and beauty of variety. So please don't tell me that God wants everyone to be exactly the same and to fit into your little narrow religious definition of how everybody is supposed to look and act!
In my opinion, nothing in the Bible justifies that view. The Bible does of course have rules for how to behave, but within that framework there is enormous room for individual freedom and variety in how to live. (See also this and that previous post.) I would go further and say that it is every person's responsibility before God to be an individual. Actually, it's fascism (not God) that tries to justify the imposition of uniformity.