Community As More Than An Idea

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December 7, 2011 by Dwight Bernier

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here. The reasons for this are numerous. But my intention is to get back into the rhythm of doing so.

I recently finished Tim Chester’s book, A Meal With Jesus, and was struck by many things he said. I wanted to share a few paragraphs where he challenges us to be a community that actually is more than an idea.

“Many people love the idea of the church as a community. But when we eat together, we encounter not some theoretical community, but real people with all their problems and quirks. The meal table is an opportunity to give up our proud ideals by which we judge others and accept in their place the real community created by the cross of Christ, with all its brokenness. It’s easy to love people in some abstract sense and preach the virtues of love. But we’re called to love the real individuals sitting around the table.

‘Those who dream of this idealized community,’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer warns, ‘demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and even God accordingly.’ But, Bonhoeffer says, ‘Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.’ So ‘we enter into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive… We do not complain about what God does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily.’ This means that the disillusionment we experience when we encounter real people with their problems is a reminder that we ‘can never live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and deed that really binds us together, the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.'”

May we partner with Jesus in what He is doing in our specific communities and not impose our ideas of what we want to happen. He’s given us a great framework to start, and we just keep following Him as He shapes and molds each community the way that He wants them. It is His bride after all.

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