“When people are deeply affected by the Word, they tell it to other people. God has willed that we should seek and find God’s living Word in the testimony of other Christians, in the mouths of human beings.” (Page 6, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works – Reader’s Edition; Fortress Press, 2015)
Mission, Jesus Christ, the Word of Jesus Christ – this is how Bonhoeffer begins Life Together. Can there be true life together without mission, Jesus Christ, and the Word of Jesus Christ? There cannot be Trinitarian life together, there cannot be Biblical life together, there cannot be transcendent life together.
If Bonhoeffer is right in saying, “When people are deeply affected by the Word, they tell it to other people,” then what does that indicate about the health of churches in which direct encounter with the Scriptures is limited (knowledge of the Bible is filtered through others), in which people seldom carry Bibles (yes, I understand carrying a Bible can mean little in and of itself), and in which men and women do not naturally, as a way of life, speak to one another about the Bible?
Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thanksgiving in your hearts to God.”
When gardeners gather they speak to one another of what they are growing; they share and solicit insights. When Christians gather ought we not to be excited about what we and others are seeing of Jesus in the Scriptures? Instead we often talk about everything and anything other than Jesus and the Bible. Gardeners are more excited about gardening than Christians are about the Word of Christ.
We all need to work the soil of the Bible and to share the produce of the land with one another. We need to speak the Word of Christ when we meet one another, when we gather together; and we ought to seek the joy of sharing the Word with those who have never heard it. Life together is life animated by the Word of Christ, and speaking the Word of God to each other ought to be just as natural as when gardeners talk gardening, when baseball fans talk baseball, and when art aficionados talk of art.
When the Christ of the Word is our life, then our life is lived in the Word of Christ.