In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Remove Shame – Cleanse the lepers: restore to community (part four)
God’s beloved community is our tutor in truth. God’s word, coming from the hearts and through the words of our brothers and sisters in Christ, can be the light that reveals the sham of our false self and the solidness of our true self. (see here.). We cannot truly know ourselves until we see ourselves reflected in the mirror of community.
When I am discouraged, afraid, off track or burdened, it is God’s truth spoken through your presence and your words that give me hope, courage, correction and relief. When I lose sight of the destination, your faithful friendship is my GPS system.
Probably the most important aspect of our definition of community is that we are together primarily because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is our relationship with Jesus that draws us to himself and puts us in relationship with every other believer. It is solely in him and through him we have this fellowship. Without him, we are a social club.
We come to community only through Jesus Christ. Unless Jesus stands between us we could not authentically connect, the way would be blocked by ego, false self. I couldn’t accept and love you for you, I would need you as an object to satisfy my own needs. Jesus’ purifying love stands as a filter between us, cleansing us of pride, selfish ambition and greed.
In community we learn to love one another and to receive love. It gives us the opportunity to offer to one another what we have received from God. We have been forgiven, we now can forgive. We have been shown mercy, we can now be merciful. Community allows us to develop the character and life of our savior Jesus.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Christian community is made solely of people redeemed by Christ. That is our only important affinity. – to desire or require more of community is to want more than what Christ established. To quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who has greatly influenced my thoughts about Christian community, in his book Life Together, “(It) is not an ideal, but a divine reality.”
We’ll talk more the “less than ideal” experience of Christian community in my next post.
This material is taken from Shaped at a Garden Retreat. For more information about this retreat contact me.