In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship… can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts… – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Remove Shame – Cleanse the lepers: restore to community (part five)
People, good intended but still tainted by their false selves, bring their idea of what community should look like and then attempt to realize it in the local body of Christ. This results in disappointment because our false selves expect community to meet our needs and this is a set up for failure. (see here.)
But God’s grace is in the failure…
…because community exists. It doesn’t just happen when we show up! It is a supernatural and real family and it is built solely on the foundation of Jesus Christ. In him we are bound together, regardless of how we feel or what our “experience” of Community is.
Can we receive it with gratefulness? Rather than attempt to create it to suit our needs?
“We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough brothers who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less that this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning sister still a sister, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not her sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.” Life Together
Living in God’s beloved community erodes the false self that causes us to hide in shame, enabling a transformation into our true self, God’s Beloved Child. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the face of the another.” Living our lives together, rubbing up against each other’s egos allows us to be mirrors to one another, showing both the rough spots and the places where God’s glory shines through.
More in my next post.
This material is taken from the Shaped at the Garden Retreat. For information about this retreat, please contact me or check out the upcoming events page.