Daily Riches: Disguised Comes God (Rudolf Bultmann)

“Just where God’s call meets each individual, you and me, in the course of our everyday life at work, in the hustle and bustle of daily affairs, I cannot tell you, nor should I even try. For that is the secret of the encounter with Jesus, that he meets us always disguised in different forms; that is the secret of God’s call, that it always sounds new, where and when one least expects it. I can only urge that each is prepared to hear the call, that each is ready to listen to it. The folktale of the poor and the rich with which we are all familiar certainly knows that encounters with God often are improbable and that whoever is not prepared for them misses them to his own detriment. The folktale relates how God once wandered the earth as a simple wanderer and was looking for lodging for the night. He knocked at the door of a rich man and requested shelter for the night. The rich man saw the unimpressive wanderer at his door–he did not exactly appear as if he could pay well–and he turned him away with all sorts of excuses; it just wasn’t convenient. Then God knocked at the door of a poor man and found a friendly reception. As the folktale later explains, the rich man had punished himself while the poor man received a rich blessing. Indeed, joyfulness and goodness, patience and willingness to sacrifice belong to the readiness that is required of us–eyes open for whatever the hour may demand of us. Disguised comes God, comes Jesus to us. And we have deprived ourselves of that hour’s blessing. For this reason we should make room in our restless and often hectic life for hours of quiet and reflection in order to examine ourselves and ponder the questions: What have I neglected? Who needs my help? Who longs to hear a kind word from me? We should not be consumed by the noise of the day, in our daily work with its cares, its joys and sufferings! We should not forget to notice what God wants to tell us here and there! … So it is that always and everywhere our brother’s need requires our sympathy and helping hand, there he [God] meets us, there his call sounds for us.” Rudolph Bultmann

“there was no room for them in the inn”
Luke 2:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What have you neglected?
  • Who needs your help?
  • Who longs for a kind word from you?

Abba, may I prepare myself to hear you when you call.

For More: “A Sermon about the Parable of the Great Banquet” by Rudolph Bultmann


Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

4 thoughts on “Daily Riches: Disguised Comes God (Rudolf Bultmann)

  1. “…if everyone calling himself a Christian had had open eyes and an open heart for social need, for the growing needs of industrial workers, for the housing need, etc., if a willingness to sacrifice and a joyfulness in doing without excesses had really been alive among us, then the contempt for the church and indeed the hatred against it never would have grown to the terrifying degree that is currently the case. The judgment would not have come about that condemns Christianity for having done little or noting at all to make the world better!” from a sermon by Rudolph Bultmann, who with Karl Barth was considered one of the two giants of twentieth-century Protestant theology, writing on the German church of Hitler’s day


  2. while no one can argue against the need for Christian involvement in compassion ministry, the “social gospel” will never replace the actual Gospel, no matter the amount of guilt-tripping of Liberal apologists. “If…then the contempt for the church and indeed the hatred against it never would have grown to the terrifying degree that is currently the case.” This reflects Bultmann’s lack of respect of the actual words of the Bible. Aside from the exaggerated picture of a :”terrifying” view of the Church, Jesus Himself clearly states that the World will HATE his Church, no matter what!
    Of all the great sources available, I’m disappointed that you’d quote Bultmann. I once wrote a college paper on him, titled, “if any come preaching any other Gospel, let him be accursed…!”, based on Galatians. And to say he “was considered one of the two giants of twentieth-century Protestant theology” is QUITE the selective stretch…
    As almost always, I enjoyed what I gleaned, overlooking the rest. Blessings upon you!


    • Hey Richard, thanks for your interaction with today’s post. I appreciate the feedback, and you can agree and still be friendly about it! I agree with you that the social gospel cannot be separated from the other part of the gospel (the giving of the message), but I do believe that the loving-helping -(“preaching without words”)-part provides a powerful, influential context for the words of good news when they’re heard – and that without such a context, the words are stripped of much of their power, because of a lack of credibility/ because the preachers are seen as hypocritical. I don’t think there are really two gospels, just the one with two critical sides. And I also agree that if the world hated Jesus they will often hate Christians – but mostly and especially when Christians truly imitate Jesus. The problem Bultmann mentions is a weak German church that had lost it’s way, and wasn’t a good witness. They actually weren’t hated by the world (the volk, in Germany) because in many cases they compromised with it and supported it. The confessing church though, was very much hated and persecuted by the Germans, and I think that’s what he’s referring to. Finally, as to quoting from Bultmann, I hear you. I used Barth in a post previously, and got a similar protest. My answer is that I post great stuff wherever I find it, without regard to the source. (There are some people I won’t post, but mostly because they are hateful in expressing their views, or because they have no real credentials or credibility.) If people from across the spectrum (sometimes I post non-Christians) agree on something and illustrate it memorably, all the better. For example, if a dozen people of every conceivable background, persuasion and experience all say that practicing silence is essential to the life of faith, that’s a very powerful thing that is then hard to deny. And I want to leave it to the discernment of my readers to decide who they agree with (on the posted words or on the actual person who is posted), and not be deciding that for them in some screening process myself. I’m not qualified or interested in doing that. I also believe that, as for me (and it’s not unique to me) I often learn more from those I differ with than with those I agree with, and even people who may be wrong in how they live or on some important doctrines still often have something powerful, true, insightful and important to say. (I thought this sermon by Bultmann was better than many I have heard from much more orthodox pastors or teachers. Like you, I had a certain view of him which made me quite surprised to hear him preach what I thought was a powerful Christian sermon). And, sorry to go on, but I want you to know I have thought about your line of objection – the minute I start not choosing certain people because of doctrinal flaws or lifestyle flaws, I’ll have to shut down the blog. I’m pretty sure we could go through the list of all the people I have ever quoted, and (with a little research in some cases) we could come up with tell something very disappointing about them or something deficient in their world-view or theology. (Pick any of the Reformers, for instance.) Anyway, I hope, even if you’re not convinced that my approach is the best, that you at least understand my approach. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and the spirit in which you offered them. Thanks for following the blog!


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