I have spent this morning leafing through Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a small book, but I have yet to decide whether I am planning on reading it again, or just mining it for ideas to meditate on.
There are a few ideas that I have already been wrestling with this morning, and was wondering if I might get some company in sorting them out.
1. Christian community is not an ideal to live up to, but a factual reality we encounter when we are in the presence of another who lives under the salvation bought for us by Jesus Christ.
If this is true, and I believe that it is, does that make the presence of our denominations all the more ridiculous? Is arbitrarily cutting ourselves off from our brothers due to one theological distinctive or another placing ourselves into a voluntary exile that rejects this gift that we have been given in each other?
2. We are provided Christian community purely by the grace of God. There was no guarantee that we would be given brothers and sisters in Christ to come together with, and there is no guarantee that we will continue to be blessed with the same.
Am I ungrateful for the ability to come together with my brothers and sisters because I have spurned the shape that Christian community so often takes in this day and culture? Is it good enough that I am otherwise immensely grateful for the few that I am able to live my life with outside of that greater assembly?
3. Given that Christian community is not an ideal to be met, we should not try to impose an ideal or a vision on the community that it is bound to fail and frustrate.
What happens when our only visible choices seem to be gatherings that have an ideal or a vision superimposed over top of them? If I am not called to try bend community into a certain shape that is pleasing to me, what am I to do when I see others doing this wherever I look for Christian fellowship?
4. Our main role in Christian community comes from the nature of our brotherhood since we are bound together only through the salvation that he has provided, our relationship toward one another is chiefly to remind ourselves of that salvation, to encourage one another by calling each other back to the message of the gospel.
If the only requirement for Christian community is the presence of another brother through the blood of Christ then what happens when our life together doesn’t reflect that reality? If my relation to my brother is based on the gift of salvation that we have received, what does it say about our community if it is largely based on shame and condemnation rather than encouragement and grace?
There is a lot to chew on up there. Hopefully not too much. Take small bites, and let me know what you are tasting in the comments.