The Covenant Family (04) - Our Life Together (Bonheoffer)
The Covenant Family (04) - Our Life Together (Bonhoeffer)
Life is Short. Have an Affair . . . This series is about Covenant Loyalty with God, in our Marriage, with our Children, and to the Church.
Ephesians 3:8–11. The Bible addresses the Church as a whole (the “catholic” or universal church), the People redeemed from all ages (Eph 5:25-27, Mat 8:11, Eph 2:12-22, Heb 12:22-24). However, the Scripture most often speaks of local, gathered assembly of believers in a specific community. The Bible speaks of “the church in Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1) which met in many assemblies from house to house (Acts 2:46), etc. Leaders in those community churches were trained and appointed to care for people (Acts 14:23, 2Ti 2:2, Tit 1:5). Upon relocation believers engaged in church planting or church “plugging” (into a community church already there). After baptism we are to assemble with others in local church in order to break bread on the first day of week and live out our roles as a new kind of humanity in the world (Acts 20:7, Eph. 2:15). These congregations form the covenant community where the life of Christ is lived out for the world to see. Those in the Church should be “in” churches. God’s people are to be relationally, spiritually, and covenantally connected to a local congregation.
EXHORTATION from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Our Life Together
Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a 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. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.
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. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a 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.
God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself. . . .
When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament.
But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray to God for understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God . . .
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more