By Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Translated by John W. Doberstein)
© 1954 Harper San Francisco
Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it (p.30).
Preliminary Thoughts and Questions
- There is a relational connection between and among us.
- Brotherhood is a matter of obedience and disobedience. There is nothing to create; there is only the choice whether or not to participate in this thing that God has done.
- What gets in the way of our learning to recognize? What is involved in this skill?
- Jesus is the basis, source, and foundation of our sibling-ness. Jesus is the means, substance, and power of our sibling-ness. Jesus is the end, goal, and intention of our sibling-ness. From start to finish, our sibling-ness is Jesus.
- What does it mean to think serenely of our fellowship? What does that look like when it is real?
- So then, is intercessory prayer then the fruit of recognizing the centrality of Christ? If I rarely pray, is my problem a lack of engagement with Jesus?
- What does it look like to hope for fellowship? Why is this important?
The greatest hindrance to learning the skill of recognition is lack of space. Life is filled with intellectual pursuits and entertainment distractions, leaving little space for the soul to rest and wrestle in God’s presence. For this condition, there is no excuse, no matter how many the soul may dredge up. How is it possible that entertainment should squeeze out time in God’s presence? How is it possible that it should squeeze out time with our siblings?
Fellowship is an essential part of our nature. God created us to be so and Jesus redeemed us to be so. Yet, this essential fellowship is nothing of us, but all of grace. The Triune God created us to reflect his own communal nature. The same Triune God gives the grace and ability to be communal despite our broken, rebellious insistence (or neglect) to the contrary.
Our culture is replete with substitutes for the reality of true fellowship. The legacy of individualism makes these substitutes all the more attractive. The individualistic infection in the church deceives the spiritually hungry, causing them to conclude that true fellowship is elsewhere. Indeed, Christians themselves hunger for this essential fellowship, yet fail to see that this is who we are.
Lord God, forgive me for allowing my many distractions to fill the space that belongs to you. I long for fellowship with you in the midst of my siblings, but my distractions are easier. Chasten my soul. Reveal the sinfulness of my sin. Make me increasingly aware of my restlessness. Thank you for creating this amazing fellowship.
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“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” http://www.esv.org/