July 14, 2007

I've Finished Reading "Life Together"

The title says it's a classic exploration of faith in community. I think that pretty much sums it up. 122+ pages on what true Christian community is and what it most definitely is NOT.

Do you have that feeling at your church like there really isn't a closeness? That somehow, even though you share so many macro-variables in common with those you live, work, and attend church with, that there is truly no bond, brotherhood, or distinguishing mark of an authentic Christian community among you? Do you feel as though your church is going through the motions, but somehow, Jesus isn't shining through in your fellowship or your community?

Have you ever thought "I wonder what the church is supposed to be like?". If you have those kinds of feelings, or you ask those sorts of questions, then this book is definitely a MUST READ for you. However, if you think that a true Christian life can be lived by attending church for one hour on Sunday, this book is probably not for you. Don't get me wrong. YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD READ IT, but, it will take a few readings of it for it to sink in and make sense to you.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in Nazi Germany. His work was mostly underground in the later years, and he was executed just days before the liberation of Germany by the Allies. His other landmark book, "The Cost Of Discipleship" does for a Christian exactly what this book will do for a church. And that is to set the bar so much higher than what we are currently living at.

I can't write anything glowing enough to recommend it to you. However, I know that I will need to read it over and over to truly grasp some of the things that are said in it. The best way to recommend it, I feel are to include some quotes from it. Thata way, you can get a flavor for what you will find in its' pages:

The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we ARE sinners!
Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous in his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community
The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them.....So it is His (Jesus') work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him
Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words.
The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.
It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God's Word and sacrament.
It's a great book. Read it slowly. Let it sink in!

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