Sunday, April 07, 2013

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - A Few Quotes

At my work, we are reading Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a study on Christian community.  As one preparing to leave our community, I found the first section of the first chapter very striking.

Chapter 1:

It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians.  Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies.  At the end, all his disciples deserted him.  On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers.  For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.  So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.  There is his commission, his work.  "The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.  And he who will not suffer this does not want to be in the Kingdom of Christ;  he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people.  Oh you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever be spared?" (Luther)  -- p. 17
 "I will so them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries" (Zech. 10:9).  According to God's will Christendom is a scatered people, scattered like the seed "into all the kingdoms of the earth" (Deut. 28:25).  That its curse and its promise.  God's people must dwell in far countries among the unbelievers, but it will be the seed of the Kingdom of God in all the world.  -- p. 18
...Until then, God's people remain scattered, held together solely in Jesus Christ, having become one in the fact that, dispersed among unbelievers, they remember Him in the far countries.  -- p. 18
 So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visible in the world to share God's word and sacrament.  Not all Christians receive this blessing.  The imprisoned, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone.  They know that visible fellowship is a blessing.  They remember, as the Psalmist did, how they went "with the the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day" (Psalm 42:4).  But they remain alone in far countries, a scattered seed according to God's will. -- p. 18-19


Susan said...

How depressing! (Even though it's true and necessary.)

RPW said...

Yes, it can be, but beautiful, too.

Where we are going, there is church, though not in English. It is beautiful. And we have already been encouraged by the strength of the faith that is present there. But there will be things that make us feel isolated. It's not an entirely unfamiliar feeling, though.

I have been so thankful for this year as a time with believers, to be fed, and to be encouraged by the churches who are sending us. Their excitement really gives us energy.

RPW said...

Honestly, the next section of the book is so beautiful, it brings me to tears, but I end up quoting so much, I'm afraid I'll break a copyright!

Patrick Watters said...

Good stuff from an old favorite that I'm currently revisiting. BTW, are you the rebellious one, or us it your hubby/pastor? Or both if you?! ;-). We have friends who minister in Papua & Vanuatu; Brian & Lynn Drury. God speed.