There is probably no Christian to whom God has not given the uplifting and blissful experience of genuine Christian community at least once in her or his life. But in this world such experiences remain nothing but a gracious extra beyond the daily bread of Christian community life.
We have no claim to such experiences, and we do not live with other Christians for the sake of gaining such experiences. It is not the experience of Christian community, but firm and certain faith within Christian community that holds us together. We hold fast in faith to God's greatest gift, that God has acted for us all and wants to act for us all. This makes us joyful and happy, but it also makes us ready to forget all such experiences if at times God does not grant them. We are bound together by faith, not by experience.
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called․that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
Questions to Ponder
Why is "the uplifting and blissful experience of genuine Christian community" somewhat rare?
What is the "firm and certain faith" that holds Christians together even when there is conflict and tension between them?
What does it mean to say: "We are bound together by faith, not by experience"?
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes. Psalm 133:1-2
Write about an "uplifting and blissful" experience of genuine Christian community in your life.
Write about a time when faith kept you in community even though the experience of community wasn't so good at the time.
Think about your community of faith. If there is any conflict or tension in the community, pray that faith in the unity given by Christ would sustain the community as it seeks to resolve the conflict. If the members of your community of faith are presently at peace with one another, thank God for the experience of unity.
Prayer for Today
Lord, I need Christian community. Help me to be there for others in the same way I need others to be there for me.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.