Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together, a book exploring Christian community, says,
“Christianity means community through Jesus and in Jesus.” 1
Bonhoeffer blends two concepts into one succinct sentence.
Bonhoeffer’s Two Concepts
(1) Only those who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior experience Christian community.
You can’t pay your way into Christian community. Only through Jesus’ payment on the cross and our subsequent salvation are we granted entrance.
In other words, only through a relationship with Jesus Christ are we able to experience Christian community. That’s because Christian community isn’t a club or organization. It is a gathering of believers whose hearts have been changed by the gospel.
(2) Only those who are empowered by Jesus can live in Christian community.
We not only must experience the grace, love, mercy, peace and forgiveness of God before we can express it in community, but we must also be empowered by Jesus to live in Christian community in a way that honors Him.
Christian community is comprised of people from every walk of life, nationality, race, socioeconomic class, etc. It is a melting pot that is ignited and sustained by Jesus. Only through His empowering are we able to live together in a way that honors Him.
Bonhoeffer is right. Without Jesus there is no Christian community. We need Him to create it through His death on the cross. As well as we need Him to sustain it through His empowerment.
Christian community then, in Bonhoeffer’s words, does in fact occur “through Jesus and in Jesus.”
Questions for Reflection
- Do believe Christian community occurs in and through Jesus?
- How have you experienced Jesus bridging the gaps between you and others who are not like you?
- How have you experienced Jesus empowering you to live in Christian community?
Want to learn more? You should check out:
- My sermon series: Living in Community – Part 1, Living in Community – Part 2, Living in Community – Part 3
- My last posts: Scriptural Metaphors for Community, Christians are Born Again Into Community, Why Don’t People Participate in Christian Community?
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 21. ↩
5 thoughts on “Christian Community Occurs In and Through Jesus”
I am afraid, if this is all Bonhoeffer claims Christian to be, I most assuredly can not fully agree. In yesterdays post, “Christ and His Cross” I point out “What is [a] Christian” and what “Christian” has come to mean. Bonhoeffer, at least from your post, appears to share a narrow view of “Christian and what it might take be one” by his commentary of it’s [Christian] community.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you, and yours, now and forever:
Thanks for your comment. Bonhoeffer’s view of Christianity is not as limited as his quote makes it seem. He has in mind Christian community, not Christianity as a whole. He means to say that those who are Christians cannot and shouldn’t exist outside of community. As well as we can’t enter into Christian community except through Jesus, nor can we continue in Christian community except in Jesus.
I read your post. I would agree. True Christians are those who follow Jesus.
Casey, I thank you for the clarification of Bonhoeffer’s views. I greatly appreciate you doing so. With your additional insight I can agree with him.
You are welcome.
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