“Blessed are those who are alone [during the day] in the strength of the community. Blessed are those who preserve community in the strength of solitude [during the day]. But the strength of solitude and the strength of community is the strength of the Word of God alone, which is meant for the individual in the community.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Fortress Press, 2015 (Reader’s Edition), page 67.
This is the conclusion of the chapter The Day Alone. We may be by ourselves during the day, but we are not alone. We are to live in the strength of life together, and we are to preserve life together, as we submit to the Word of God throughout the day. The Word of God speaks to us throughout the day, and the community which lives under the Word of God speaks to us. Do we listen?
When I am tempted with disobedience do I hear the Word of God calling me to obedience? When I am tempted do I hear the voice of my brothers and sisters? Do we live in an awareness that we are “one bread and one body” (1 Cor. 10:17)? After the victory at Jericho the people of Israel learned what happens when one person brings disobedience into the camp (Joshua Chapter 7). Paul argues that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). These things are not written that we should become a kind of religious police – they are written that we might live in an awareness that what we think and what we say and what we do matters – not just to us, but to the Body of Christ. They are also written that we might have mutual accountability in life together. The ways of the enemy can be subtle, the broader culture can be seductive – we need each other to see what we cannot see, to warn against what we may not readily perceive. Are there Trojan horses in my life? In the life of my local fellowship?
When we gather together there must be more of an “us” than there is at a civic association meeting, a business meeting, a political meeting, a meeting at school. There must be more of an “us” than those who patronize a retail store to take advantage of a sale. And surely there must be more of an “us” than there is a football game. But is there?
We speak of those who follow a sports team as having become a “nation”. The “Red Sox Nation,” the “Atlanta Falcons Nation,” the UVA or VA Tech “nation”. Alumni of colleges have their networks and associations and often strong affinities – they may strongly identify with one another whether they actually know one another or not.
Is the church more of an “us”, more of a “we”, than what many people experience in other collective gatherings and affinities? Does the enthusiasm of God’s people exceed that of a college football homecoming game? If the church falls short are we grieved to the extent that sports fans are who mourn the loss of a key game? Do we build our lives around the living Church of Jesus Christ the way others order their lives around civic, entertainment, or sporting events?
Do we believe that God actually indwells His people? That we are bone of Christ’s bone and flesh of His flesh? That we are one spirit with the Lord? Do we believe that our lives are not our own but that they belong to Jesus Christ and to the Church of the Living God?
If an outsider were looking at my life what would he say about me? About you?