After I completed reading “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was left with an extraordinary arrangement of observing, information, and inspiration. This book, written by Bonhoeffer, is basically concerning how Christians should live together in community. I live in community with different believers in several diverse settings – my family, my local church, my friends, and so forth, thus learning from Bonhoeffer has been very satisfying.
The first chapter deals with community as Bonhoeffer makes it clear that it’s solely by God’s grace that we are permitted to live in community and that we ought to be terribly thankful when we are allowed to have this opportunity by God. Community is essential in our walk with God – “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, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. …The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure” ( Bonhoeffer page 23). I like this quote because it shows how grateful I am for the numerous people in my life I have that speak encouragement into my heart.
Bonhoeffer outlines the vulnerability that several Christians face once they first live in community. He mentions, “But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves” (Bonhoeffer pages 26-27). But why would this be the case? Bonhoeffer goes on to answer this by saying, “The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community” (Bonhoeffer page 27).
I wonder how frequently I have been in community and tried to retain the impression of what I assumed life together ought to be or tried to persuade those around me to hold onto a dream that wasn’t from God. I am strongly encouraged to participate in this self-analysis to decide at the moment if this is the circumstance regarding the communities I am living in. This is a difficult thought – we cannot be steered to believe that the ecstatic experiences that overwhelm us when first in community are reality and will continue. ...