Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Life Together"

As the dust begins to settle on our “big move” we are beginning to feel normal here. The days become routine (this time of year anyway) and the many “new” things about working at camp are becoming “regular” things. Behind the brochures and the promotional videos of smiling young people are the budgets that need to be balanced, the broken gear that needs to be fixed and a lot of buildings that need to be cleaned. Behind the nametags and the smiles, CFS staff are people who have problems, get hurt, and hurt others at times, just like everyone else.

As we have entered this “Christian community,” I have been reading Dietrich Bonheoffer’s book Life Together. He wrote the book as a reflection on community life in the small underground seminary he taught at in Germany before he was captured and killed by the Nazis. His reflections have been helpful when it comes to the unusual challenges that come with life among believers. He talks of the despair and disillusionment that are inevitable if a person has an idealistic picture of what this kind of life can be. The only Biblical truth is that we are sinful people living among other sinful people. It just so happens that we live among those whose sin is covered by the blood of Christ. As this relates to church bodies as well, I thought I would pass along some of his thoughts for those who may struggle with surprise at the sin of their brothers and sisters. This passage is my prayer as we begin our work, and a prayer request for those who have asked for ideas.

“We enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: brothers who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace?... Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words or deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together-the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.”

1 comment:

  1. I love it that you are reading Bonhoeffer's Life Together. I read that a few years ago for a camp I was speaking at (which never came to fruition, however, the book was read). I love reading Bonhoeffer's theology, as he has the incredible ability to take insanely complex theological truths and make them entirely applicable and ready to use.
    Plus, what an appropriate book for you to read as you get going with CFS. Thanks for the post.