Blumhardt felt a special responsibility for the work of his son-in-law, a missionary in China. This motivated him to write numerous letters—one hundred and twenty-three in all—to Wilhelm between 1898-1914. What follows are extracts from these letters. Full of hearty warmth, Blumhardt’s words radiate a fatherly care, even as they voice a battle cry for authentic Christian witness.
This article is an excerpt from Everyone Belongs to God.
Jesus is already there.
There is something of Jesus hidden in so many hearts. If it is given to you to speak it out, then it will of itself spread from person to person.
Stick with the people
Stick with the people among whom you have been placed, and win their hearts by remaining among them, so that they trust you. This will take time. And remember: the Savior seeks the lost sheep, not the ninety-nine already in the pen. Therefore stand with and live with the poor, the spiritually undeveloped, the despised, the oppressed. Religious people cannot bring life, but Christ alive in you can, even in the so-called worldly contacts you have with people.
Much to learn.
We still have much to learn, and life gives us plenty of opportunity. In our time races and nations are intermingling. We must learn to respect and love one another; world history points to this. There is no other way. God has been saying it for a long time, of course. You can’t even cross the street without meeting people whose ideas are quite different from yours; nor can you travel without soon mixing with people whose life and outlook is completely different. As you deal with all these people, realize this: If God is with you, then he must also be with them! If you think you have to wait until they are converted or changed, it will be the worse for you when God’s kingdom comes. Jesus died for all people, because we are all godless, and all need him. This is the love of God.
The meaninglessness of Christianity
Christians are laughed at. Christianity no longer means anything. Everywhere there are rapidly growing circles of people who are convinced that Christianity has no value and can only be tolerated as a personal affair. That is why there must be something quite new, which in our view is impossible - but in God’s sight it is possible and therefore within view. In our sight it is impossible because we do not see the strength for this with our human eyes, and still less have we this strength within us - but for God it is possible. He has powers; He has majesty over the whole world, and he has, in Jesus, a firm footing with these powers among men.
On quoting the Bible
I know unbelievers who are much more believing than the believers. The believers are the very ones who are in danger of seeking honor and glory before men with their piety. And on top of it all they appeal to the Bible. It is no good to throw Bible quotations around. There are some who no longer use Bible verses; instead they fight for God, for truth, for love, for fellowship. They fight for mankind, so that men may at last get out of their misery. They do not use the name of God, but at the end of time, they shall hear the words, “Go into the joy of your Lord.” - “I do not know what I have done to serve thee,” they may reply. To which their Judge will answer, “Whatever you did to relieve human misery, whatever you tried to do to make things better on earth, that you did to me.”
A question of time
The Savior demands of us that we love even our enemies. He will not tolerate that we hate or condemn our enemies, It is extremely important to him that we not be judges in the world; that we think of no one as not belonging to God. Even when it goes against our feelings, when we see the worst of men we must still be able to think, “It is merely a question of time. In any case he is God’s already today, even though he is in darkness. The darkness is under God too.” If we take this stand, then we shall experience eternal life in our own lives. Then we shall experience all manner of good things coming from God to our selves and to other people.