Thinking About Life Together
Krissy has some thoughts on her quest for community. In particular, she shares a great quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
"Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung up from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams.This is powerful stuff. The other day I caught myself thinking about the future, thinking about how what I really long for are deep friendships, meaningful community. Those are good things. But then it struck me - do I want to plant a church for my own sake, to fulfill my own needs and desires? Or am I truly motivated by Christ, to please him, to be about his work rather than my own.
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. [...]
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."
Too many times, what I really want from the church is my own little wish dream. I want friends for my sake, not Christ's. What I need to desire is not others, not even the church (at least not as an end). I need to desire God.
Make no mistake, Christ is all about building the church. But it's for his sake, not ours; it's to bring his Father glory. Now we are surely beneficiaries of this redemptive effort, but we are not the the impetus or reason for his work.
Christ does indeed love us, but that love does not flow from us - it flows from him, to us. He doesn't love us because of some fundamental goodness in us, as if we deserve to be loved. He loves us because God loves us. And God loves us simply because he wants to.
I need to remind myself of that, or I will never find the fulfillment that I desire in community. Community is not about me, or even about us. We will find true community (and all the benefits that flow from that) only when we stop looking for community as an end in itself, as the object of our desires, and start looking at Christ, desiring him instead.
Fortunately, God's grace doesn't leave us to ourselves. It shatters us with a life full of hardship and dissappointments - it will not let us find rest anywhere but in God.
That puts a whole new perspective on grace, at least for me. Bonhoeffer's words are a needed reminder for me these days. Thanks Krissy...