A Christian Community
“Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian Brethren.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
November is the month we usually focus on giving thanks for the gifts the Lord has given. In school, the kids write papers about their thankfulness, color pictures of cornucopias (The Horn of Plenty), learn about the pilgrims, and participate in many other Thanksgiving related activities. As I participate in these activities with the kids, I am reminded of the above quote from Pastor Bonhoeffer. If you have never heard of him before, take some time to research who he was and how God spoke through him during the time of Nazi Germany.
I always find it interesting to look back at history and think about what life was like as a Christian during that time period. Pastor Bonhoeffer ministered when the Nazis were coming into power. He knew first hand the privilege and joy of living in community with other Christians. Not only was this community a comfort during a horrific time but it was necessary for survival for many people. The network of believers that stretched across families, neighborhoods, cities, and even continents supported one another with prayers, food, shelter. They even gave up their lives for one another. This blessing of a community of Christian believers is one of the most vital yet most underappreciated and even despised blessings our Lord has given to us. We grumble and complain about how our community functions, what our building looks like, who our people are and how they act. Instead of seeing the blessing our church family brings to us we see the struggles. Instead of the peace it brings to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we see the flaws in our brethren. We shop for community the way we shop for a new house or car. Not to mention picking a community and staying with it goes completely against our consumer mindset.
What if we try to change that mindset? What if we begin to see our brothers and sisters in Christ as a blessing from the Lord given to strengthen us and give us comfort? What if we live in a Christian community not because of what that community gives to me but because Christ gave that community to strengthen me? How would our encounters with each other be different if we had that mindset? We are stronger together!
We are blessed to not have to live through the horrors that took place in Bonhoeffer's time but we have horrors of our own today. Let us lean on each other in our times of joy and sorrow. Let us not take for granted the wonderful blessing we are to each other as a community of Christian brethren. I give thanks this month for my community of fellow believers.
So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4