Anchoring our Life Together • Week 1 • Dale Cooper
Read: Ephesians 4.1-5
Memorize: “And our fellowship is with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1.3)
In his little classic book, Life Together: A Discussion of Christian Fellowship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that the very existence of any Christian community depends upon the presence of a single person, Jesus Christ. He alone forms its foundation. He is its life-giving fountain, its nourishing center.
“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this…. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ…. One is a brother [or sister] to another only through Jesus Christ. I am a brother to another person through what Jesus Christ did for me and to me; the other person has become a [sister] to me through what Jesus Christ did for [her]”
The implications of what Bonhoeffer is claiming here are vast. What finally matters about another person in a (Christian) community is not whether she or he belongs to one group or class, whether she or he is old or young, right-brained or left-brained, athletic or non-athletic, intellectually sharp or dull, humorous or flat, spiritually mature or youthful, extroverted or introverted, heterosexual or homosexual, Christian Reformed or non-CRC, American, Lithuanian, Latvian, or Dutch—or in any of the other thousands of other categories we apply to people. No, what finally brings us together—and keeps us there—is that together we belong to Jesus Christ.
“Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood [and sisterhood] is what that [woman or] man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.”
Bonhoeffer’s words are prophetically compelling. How important that we aim each day—and each hour—to act carefully and well toward one another in our Christian community and to view every fellow Jesus-follower for who she or he really is: as one who, like us, is in, with, and for Jesus Christ.
Ancient Jews would avoid stepping upon a piece of paper in their way, but would pick it up, in case it had God’s name on it. We could apply this principle to fellow members of our community: don’t trample on a sister or brother. She or he is one for whom Jesus died, in whom He is alive.
In, with, for: three small prepositions, yes. But they can make a world of difference in what we think and say, and in how we act toward other human beings in our congregation.
“Remind me again and again, Lord, that ‘I am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ’—and so do my Christian sisters and brothers. Help me to welcome them and love them, as you have welcomed and loved me. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.”
Notice how you categorize people. Which people are in your tribe, and which are out? When you think of a particular person, what categories spring to mind? This week, make a point of seeing each person as an image-bearer of God, as a person for whom Christ died, and as a fellow member of Christ’s body.
Pray for …
- God’s blessing to be upon someone with whom you disagree – perhaps another COS member
- All delegates to the CRC Synod in June – for the Holy Spirit to equip and guide them
- Sisters and brothers at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church (a Camelot Community Partner)