A classic exploration of Christian community, indeed. If you are currently in the process of learning to be a disciple-maker or are presently being discipled, I would highly recommend this book to reinforce what you are learning about the importance of growing alongside a body of Jesus-followers. Merely interested in learning why being actively connected to a local church community is a critical component to your walk with Christ? This book is a resource for that as well.
It’s a short book and a quick read, originally published in 1939 but then later published in English in 1954. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, penned this book while teaching at an underground seminary just ahead of World War II. Book reviewer Tim Chester comments, “Being written for a specific community means that at times description and prescription overlap and not all of it will be directly applicable to your context. But Life Together is a classic of Christian spirituality and a theologically rich guide to making real community work.”
I found myself making tons of notes and appreciated the way the chapters were simply organized. Just 122 pages long, this book is packed full of well-worded insights and encouragements about the life-blood that is Christian fellowship.
A few favorite quotes:
Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure. (pg. 23)
A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. (pg. 86)
Once a man has experienced the mercy of God in his life he will henceforth aspire only to serve. The proud throne of the judge no longer lures him; he wants to be down below with the lowly and needy, because that is where God found him. (pg. 94)
But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. (pg. 111)
The picture of the worn book above confirms I have visited this writing time and time again. Originally given to me by my Pastor, Sabo Cortez (Covenant Grace Church, Winchester), this is truly a treasure that I will flip open as I continue to grow up into God’s beautiful design for the body of Christ.
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About the Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau in 1906. The son of a famous German psychiatrist, he studied in Berlin and New York City. He left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943. Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed, he was hanged in April 1945.