Every human idealized image that is brought into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be broken up so that genuine community can survive.
Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial...
Those who dream of this idealized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and even God accordingly...
Because God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive. We thank God for what God has done for us. We thank God for giving us other Christians who live by God's call, forgiveness, and promise. We do not complain about what God does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Questions to Ponder
What does it mean to love the "dream of Christian community more than the community itself"?
If "we enter community not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive," what should our attitude and action toward the community be?
Is it easier to "complain about what God does not give us" or to be "thankful for what God does give us"? Why?
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
O save your people, and bless your heritage;
be their shepherd, and carry them forever. Psalm 28:7-9
Write about your response to Bonhoeffer's ideas about Christian community.
Does reading Bonhoeffer on Christian community change the way you feel about your faith community? How? Or why not?
Does it suggest any practical changes in the way you relate to your faith community? If so, what are they?
Think about your faith community and spiritual friends (name them) and thank God for the support you get from them in living your life of faith.
Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, I will be as important to my spiritual community as my spiritual community is to me.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.