Every act of self-discipline by a Christian is also a service to the community. Conversely, there is no sin in thought, word, or deed, no matter how personal or secret, that does not harm the whole community. When the cause of an illness gets into one's body, whether or not anyone knows where it comes from, or in what member it has lodged, the body is made ill.
This is the appropriate metaphor for the Christian community. Every member serves the whole body, contributing either to its health or to its ruin, for we are members of one body not only when we want to be, but in our whole existence. This is not a theory, but a spiritual reality that is often experienced in the Christian community with shocking clarity, sometimes destructively and sometimes beneficially.
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. Romans 12:4-5
Questions to Ponder
What do you think Bonhoeffer means by an "act of self-discipline"?
How can an individual's sins "harm the whole community"?
What are the implications of Bonhoeffer's assertion that, "we are members of one body not only when we want to be, but in our whole existence"?
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Reflect on your experience in your community of faith. Does it feel like a living body of which you are a member? Explain.
How might you better serve "the whole body"?
Prayer for Today
Holy God, thank you that you have made me a member of the Body of Christ; help me keep healthy that I may not harm the whole body.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.