God’s Word to our church on Sunday was about the benefit of community life taught in Galatians 6:1-10. To help us to continue to think about the privilege of Christian community, I have recorded five quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together for our reflection.
1. “God has put this Word [of Jesus Christ] into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged… He needs his brother…as a… proclaimer of the divine word of salvation… his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.” (pp. 22-23)
2. “… a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. Among men there is strife. ‘He is our peace,’ says Paul of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:14)… Without Christ we should not know God… .But without Christ we also would not know our brother, nor could we come to him. The way is blocked by our own ego. Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother.” (p. 23)
3. “Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.” (p. 25)
4. “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality.” (p. 26)
5. “Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream… By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world… Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” (pp. 26-27)
Bonhoeffer reminds us of the basis, benefits, and even dangerous blindness of community life. The basis of our fellowship is the work and Word of Jesus Christ applied by the Spirit of God. The benefits of this Christ-bought, Spirit-wrought fellowship are the edification and encouragement that come from the shared Word of Christ. And the blindness to be avoided comes from the glare of our shimmering ideals of what church life should be over and against a love for the church itself.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
(Quotations taken from Life Together, written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and published by Harper & Row, 1954)
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.