It is too easy to be tempted to construct church unity on the basis of our personal, missional, or theological unity instead of the spiritual unity that we have only in and through Jesus Christ. After a considerable time of actually living out the challenges of life together, Bonhoeffer wrote Life Together to record a theology of community.
How do these words speak to you today? Do you find the temptation to construct your own unity? What breaks unity for you?
Which brings into immediate concern the failings of our brother or the failings of our sister and how those failings tax our ability to dwell in unity. Bonhoeffer’s words root us in grace, they point out our feeble attempts to construct our own ground rules for unity, and they reveal that genuine unity is something that we receive and something in which we live by faith:
“Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the common life, is not the one who sins still a person with whom I too stand under the word of Christ? Will not another Christian’s sin be an occasion for me ever anew to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Therefore, will not the very moment of great disillusionment with my brother or sister be incomparably wholesome for me because it so thoroughly teaches me that both of us 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? The bright day of Christian community dawns wherever the early morning mists of dreamy visions are lifting” (36-37).