Sleep on This: Life together (April 1)
From 1935-1937, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hung by the Nazis in the closing days of World War II, served as the leader of an underground seminary called Finkenwalde. There, young pastors were prepared to serve the Confessing Church, the German Christians who ultimately stood in opposition to Hitler and his state-sanctioned church. During that time Bonhoeffer did some of his most significant theological work, including penning the classic Life Together, a description of genuine Christian community.
In the first chapter, Bonhoeffer writes, “It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that at any day may be taken from us…It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
Bonhoeffer’s words proved prophetic. In September 1937, the Gestapo closed down Finkenwalde and that gracious and precious community was gone.
If three months ago you had said that we would soon be deprived of our customary opportunities for face to face, touch-the-flesh Christian community, no one would have believed you. Turns out, Bonhoeffer’s words were prophetic for this day, too; that grace-gift of community has been “taken from us”…at least for the present.
Philippians 2:6 reveals how truly precious face-to-face fellowship is when it described the lengths to which God the Son was willing to go to have that fellowship with us on earth.
“…though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form…”
See that word “grasped?” Imagine a woman clinging desperately to her purse as a hooligan tries to rip it from her hands. The Son had every right to cling…to clutch…to grasp at his heavenly rights. Instead, he released his grip so that he might come to us in human form. The God-man. Why? Because…there is something precious and irreplaceable about the gift of face-to-face community.
Right now, we are denied that community. We are finding ways to make up for it, of course. Thank God for the internet. But I pray that ONE result of this crisis is that we will be reminded of how precious Christian community really is…and on the first day our church doors are open…the place will be flooded with a church family desperate to embrace one another once again!
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, I am reminded of the Christian community that I too easily took for granted. Forgive me for that and grow in my heart the longing for face-to-face, faithful, life-giving fellowship with my Chapel Hill family. May I NEVER take going to church for granted again! And as I wait for that return, inspire me to find ways to remain connected to my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Amen.