Who is Heinrich Heine and why is our pastor quoting him during the Easter sermon?

I let my fingers do the Googling and found him to be one of the more cynical poets of the early 19th century. A persecuted Jew and skeptical poet whose writing avoided the “high flights of fancy” so often found in the sentimental Romanticism of his day. A highly controversial writer who became the focus of Nazi oppression and subsequent book burning, Heine was on a quest for true hope and change. 

A converted Jew, he tried to assimilate into Christian German culture but was disdained and condemned by the Nazi culture due to his Jewish heritage. He’s described as a more honest and human poet than any of his romantic contemporaries. 

In short, it seems as though Heine was into pinpointing real (see: this and this) and I so dig that. 

How am I a living testimony to others? If no one knew I was a Christian, could they tell merely from my life? My decisions? My words? My actions? 

This begs another deeper question: how do these personal aspects translate to individuals in general? And, as long as I’m questioning God’s divine plan, what’s to say everyone sees my life the same way? I may be showing you a redeemed life, but what if your stuff gets in the way of seeing my life as redeemed?  Your stuff or church stuff or personal biases or religiosity or pain or whatever. What then?

Is being nice, helpful, generous, hard-working and kind enough for eternal salvation? No. Are these elements of a redeemed life? Sure, as long as we see them to our satisfaction.

I get what Heine is saying here. Christians should put words to action. Don’t tell me you are a Christian then gossip, judge and look down your nose at me. Don’t roll your eyes when people enter the church lobby in less-than-acceptable attire or speak in a condescending tone to those who aren’t well-versed in churchy language. 

I’ll give you an example. A real example. 
If you’re asked to lead a small group and one of the people in attendance, sitting directly across from you, missing teeth, struggling on welfare, asking for help parenting her 6-year old daughter, toting a squirming 7-month old baby in a too-small dirty car seat… well, you don’t ignore her raised hand. Right in front of you. Three feet away. For 20 minutes. 

Her question was never answered. The facilitator just kept on talking. I was new so I kept quiet. It’s one of the more shameful experiences I’ve had at church. My church. The one I attend right now

How did I show my redeemed life to that woman, whom, to my knowledge, never again darkened the doorstep of this church?

The real truth is… I didn’t show her anything. I sat there, quiet and meek and ashamed. Where I am in my faith now, that would not happen. I’ve matured in my walk, as Heine matured in his often harsh and pessimistic views on the human condition and reality of social culture. 

Well, folks, call me the Heine of our day. At this time, in this way, I will say what needs saying in my little slice of Christian life and culture. 

Namely this: let’s meet people where they’re at, shall we? 

Just, no, to judgment, self-righteous language, mock empathy and shallow, frivolous conversations. Let’s be done messing around with being nice and get down to the business of being real. So, when I ask you “how are you” on Sunday, just give me an honest answer like:
Life sucks right now, just sayin’. 
or
My wife is dying and I want to go with her
or
Know what? I’m pretty damn grateful for a lot right now and I’m scared it’s going to evaporate as soon as I voice that. 
or
I spent all night trying to get my husband not to drink.
or
I’ve got a migraine, but I’m here. By the grace of God I’m here. 
All of these sentiments I know to be true in our church body right now. These are honest, living examples of authenticity in our midst. 

Show me authenticity in a Christian walk and I’ll show you a redeemed life on display, Mr. Heine.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Heinrich_Heine