Discipleship University has been a great joy and enriching experience for me this semester. Since January, a combined group of 15-20 have been reading and discussing challenging Christian books that probe theological issues, and ask what it is to be a growing Christian disciple. We are currently reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book Life Together, exploring what it means to live in Christian community. Let me lift up a few quotable insights from that book for your thoughts and prayers this week.
"He who loves his dream of community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial." Bonhoeffer is encouraging us to not be overly idealistic in our view of Christian community but rather let it be a place where we can be vulnerable with each other, take away the facades that seperate us, and truly be together.
"Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things...How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?" I think of where the Lord's Prayer leads us to pray not for a grand feast or a life time supply of our favorite meal but for "daily bread."
"Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases." This is a good reminder that it is God who grows us as a church.
Finally, Bonhoeffer writes about the uplifting experiences we have in Christian community and the blessing of that, but he cautions that "we do not live with other Christians for the sake of acquiring them (experiences)." It is not the experience of Christian brotherhood, but solid and certain faith in brotherhood that holds us together...We are bound together by faith, not by experience."
Here Bonhoeffer returns us to the New Testament and reminds us that what the church is, is the Body of Christ. We are formed and held together in Christ and through Christ, and it is our common faith in Him that holds us together, not a string of inspirational experiences alone, but our unity in Christ.
What a good word for all of us.