The Friday Pickle - do we love the dream of community rather than community itself?

Posted by Craig Borlase on 10 June 2014

We Christians talk a lot about community - with good reason. At our best we can be supportive, kind and wholly welcoming to outsiders. But we can also be introspective, short sighted and proud. Too often, a church can display both of those extremes to different people at the same time.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote some words which speak into the dangers of our misunderstanding what true community is. Writing in "Life Together" he described the core problem as‚

"Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial."

About the consequences of such an attitude, he wrote‚

"God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idealized community 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."

Finally, his words could almost be written directly for us - with our talk of "God showing up‚" and near-constant assessments of how engaged people are with what we're doing‚

"The Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be continually taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more assuredly and consistently will community increase and grow from day to day as God pleases."

So, the pickle today is this: are we in love with a fantasy of Christian community, or are we thankful for what we've been given?

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