Key Links: Welcome | Favorite Movie Quotes | Guestbook | XML | Contact Us

Saturday, January 14, 2006

more from bonhoeffer

i don't know what has gotten in to me lately. i've blogged more in the last 4 days than all of 2005 combined! bonhoeffer nails community on the head again on page 76 of his book, life together.
The person who comes into a fellowship because he is running away from himself is misusing it for the sake of diversion, no matter how spiritual this diversion may appear. He is really not seeking community at all, but only distraction which will allow him to forget his loneliness for a brief time, the very alienation that creates the deadly isolation of man. The disintegration of communication and all genuine experience, and finally resignation and spiritual death are the result of such attempts to find a cure.
then on page 110-111 and this is powerful stuff so read carefully!
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 we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone.
why do we need community? bonhoeffer says succinctly, "Christ became our Brother in order to help us. Through him our brother has become Christ for us in the power and authority of the commission Christ has given to him."


At 12:04 AM, January 15, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

There is so much good stuff in that book! I do like his discussions on "needing community" and "needing to be alone".

This is going to be more of a personal comment in light my last couple of weeks. The last two weekends I've had the previledge of eating two different dinners with a new crowd of friends. At the first dinner, myself and the hostess were the only two Christians and at the second dinner there were five of us out of seventeen people. The funny thing I saw, experienced, and enjoyed was the kindness and gentleness that was shared by everyone in the room. There were toasts, laughs, and a real feeling of celebration just for the sake of having friends over for dinner. There was also an appreciation for the variety of food and drink, and real enjoyment of life.

It was unusual to me to see so many non-Christians acting this way, but you could tell how well the community they had developed had encouraged them to be thankful, humble, and gracious to each other. It was nice, it was relaxing, I rather enjoyed myself.

But it has kept me thinking what causes us to struggle in our Christian fellowship? I think Bonhoeffer hits it right on the nose. So often we are the "pious fellowship." We would never say that or think it of course; but why can it be so tiring to hang out with other Christians? Why does it feel like such a burden sometimes? I think part of it is because we can so easily be selfish and having our own pre-concieved ideas of fellowship makes this a great temptation. But even more so, I think what is so exhausting is that we tip toe around our own sin and everyone else's the entire time we are together.

So how do we fight that? Apply the Gospel to ourselves better? Begin to see Christ in all of brothers and sisters more clearly? Any other ideas?

At 7:23 AM, January 15, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

I think another reason we become the "pious fellowship" - and then grow to enjoy that - is because it is comfortable... the more the group is similar in taste, desires, wants, looks, etc, the more we feel as if we "fit in." And, to be honest, I am growing a bit weary of the P.F. (pious fellowship) - I think I'm ready for a little T.F. (transformational fellowship) - whatever the heck THAT is!

At 8:37 PM, January 15, 2006, Blogger rs said...

All I can say, Brian, is keep hanging out with them. I don't know why, but as God has been changing me with respect to how I relate to unbelievers (that I am actually doing it now!), I have begun to enjoy hanging with them more and more - more so than most believers at this point. Yet I still struggle with how to present the gospel in a natural way - in a way that challenges their unbelief (the way it challenges mine) without condemning them or sounding judgmental. It's such a challenge.

I think your last question is one that we talked about in our adult Sunday School class today. I think the answer is diversity. We need to put into practice another key element from Bonhoeffer's book - being better listeners. We suck at listening because we tend to hang out with people who think like us and affirm us, rather than pursuing people who differ with us (even in the church) and really listening to where they are coming from. I think if we can do this better, we will make good headway and we'll listen better to the world. The world will feel like they actually can belong to the church before they believe because the church won't insist on them conforming.

At 8:44 PM, January 15, 2006, Blogger rs said...


I think you are being rubbed the way I am by the PF. I am somewhat repulsed by it. I am convinced that the reason local churches turn into PF's is that they lose their sense of mission. They lose sight of why God has them there in the first place - to be about the ministry of reconciliation. When they lose sight of mission they begin to exist for themselves and end up being non-transformational. We need to challenge our fellowships to be about God's mission.

One of the problems that was recently pointed out to me by my pastor is that evangelicalism has tended to see the church as God's primary concern. We focus all of our energy on making the church right and then we worry about the world and mission. These become option categories if we can find the resources to spare.

Instead, the biblical model seems to place the Kingdom of God as God's primary concern. Underneath the Kingdom is mission to the world and the outgrowth of that mission is the church. The church needs to be about the Kingdom and it's mission and that is what grows and purifies the church through the Holy Spirit.

I think most of us would admit that we can "play church" out of our own strength, but we can only participate in the mission of the Kingdom by the power of the King through the Holy Spirit - this causes a dependence that lays our strenghts aside.

At 7:58 AM, January 16, 2006, Anonymous ande said...

hey ryan,
this is ande your long lost friend from Orlando. I just wanted to say that I have been reading SLD over the christmas break as well and I appreciate the discussion has developed, it has been a blessing to wrestle with this stuff myself. Its amazing as we grow in Christ likeness we realize how much more we need to grow and how much we desperately need him to grow us. thanks all!

At 8:19 AM, January 16, 2006, Anonymous ande said...

I meant to say that I have been reading LifeTogether over the break along with SLD. sorry.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home