Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reflections on Bonhoeffer’s Life Together – 61

“After the day’s work has been completed, we ask for God’s blessing, peace, and preservation for the whole of Christianity…for the poor, the wretched and lonely, for the sick and dying, for our neighbors…When could we ever have a deeper awareness of God’s power and working than in the hour when we lay aside our own work and entrust ourselves to God’s faithful hands?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Fortress Press, 2015 (Reader’s Edition), page 52

Bonhoeffer continues to envision Christians gathering in life together throughout the day, into the evening and night. While circumstances may preclude us from doing this every night of the week, we can seek to connect with one another through various avenues of communication – we can seek to acknowledge one another. We can also continue in our prayer for one another. The cultivation of life together is an intentional and daily effort – yes effort. We should seek how we can “exhort one another while it is called today” – not think about doing it tomorrow, not regretting that we didn’t do it yesterday – today is the day of salvation.

In the evening, as we reflect on the day in the light of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word we can keep in mind Bonhoeffer’s words, “It is a decisive rule of every Christian community that every division that the day has caused must be healed in the evening. It is perilous for the Christian to go to bed with an unreconciled heart,” (page 53).

Life together is daily koinonia; koinonia in prayer, in the Word, in encouragement, in mission. It is the life of the “we” and “us” as opposed to the life of the “I” and “me”; it is the life of the “our” and not the life of the “mine”. We are called to live the day as members one of another, preferring one another above ourselves, forbearing and forgiving. My victory must not be my concern, I must seek our victory. We are called to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16) – this is how we know love, it is how we know life together.

Churches can program its members to death. We are not called to death via programs, we are called to life in Christ as we share life together. There is holistic health in community, there is Divine life in koinonia in Jesus Christ.

As we conclude this chapter of Life Together (The Day Together) let’s seek to be intentional in connecting with one another on a daily basis, throughout the day. A morning connection, a mid-day connection, and an evening connection. What can that look like in our lives? In my life? In your life? How can we facilitate the gathering of brothers and sisters during the week? How can we break bread together? How can we laugh and cry together? How can we encourage one another?

For the next seven days can we be intentional in touching our brothers and sisters three times a day, every day? Can life together become a way of life?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reflections on Bonhoeffer’s Life Together – 60

“The day belongs to God alone. Hence in the middle of the day, the Christian community of faith gathers and lets God invite them to the table.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Fortress Press, 2015 (Reader’s Edition), page 51.

Bonhoeffer envisions Christians sharing life together gathering in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. While this is a challenge in our society, it is also a goal to which we ought to strive. Even if we cannot physically always gather at these times, we can gather more than just on Sundays and we can strive to incorporate koinonia into our daily lives by prayer, phone calls, other forms of communication (and less personal in the sense that nothing is as personal as being together or as the human voice) – and we can do our best to meet with one another during the day as often as possible. This can be for breakfast, for lunch, or for an afternoon coffee – as well as in the evening.  

When we do not gather, when we do not meet with one another, we are saying that the body of Christ is not vital to our lives – we are saying that we can live without fellowship, we are saying that the demands of this present age take precedence over our brothers and sisters…over our Lord Jesus Christ. When we quote Hebrews about not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, and think that the author is writing about an hour on Sunday morning – we deceive ourselves. The writer of Hebrews is speaking of living in the Holy of Holies as people who have been made pure by the blood of Jesus, who are living in the presence of God in full assurance of faith, stimulating one another to love and good deeds and encouraging one another. This is a way of life that is to be lived every day, it is a way of life that is to be The Way of Life Together in Christ and with and in one another in Christ. Such a life cannot survive on one or two hours a week of Bread and Wine and Water and Word. While we may not live in communes we can live in community – indeed we must if we are to preserve the testimony of Jesus Christ in this generation.

When I take time for my brothers and sisters during the day I am saying to them and to the world, “You are important to me. You are important to Christ.” If the measure of my day is limited to productivity, to the “things” I do at work or at home, then I have missed my calling to worship God and testify that “the day belongs to God”. Better not to receive the promotion of man if it means that I am not encouraging and nurturing the body of Christ.

If the “day belongs to God alone,” then not one hour, not one minute, not one moment, belongs to me. God has entrusted His day to me as His steward – will I be faithful to Him? Will I be a thief and steal that which belongs to God, or will I hold in trust the hours and minutes and moments and offer them up to Him for His glory?

When we are too busy for the people of God we are too busy.

How can we connect with our brothers and sisters during the day? How can we encourage them?

“The day belongs to God alone.”