I've been reading a couple books on my break from class this past month. Once book that I have just recently started reading is Bonhoeffer's book, "Life Together." I thought it appropriate to read because of the nature of my life these days. Living a somewhat "monastic" lifestyle can be wearing and yet, so fulfilling at the same time. I began reading the first chapter and was immediately met with the reality of what life has been here in the boiler room. I am learning a lot about living in community here...real community.
I say real community because there is an aspect of community that we see in our workplaces, churches, and friendly circles this word "community" popping up everywhere. It has in many ways become no more than a buzz word that we as hip and up-to-date Christians like to use to refer to our gatherings. However, do we truly know what real, honest community is?
It is this question that I have been asking myself ever since I began this season of life, discovering the essence of community (and by no means to I have it figured out yet). For some time, I wondered about the status quo that seemed to be placed upon community as it relates to the success or health of a community. Would a true, Christ-centered community endure difficulties and strife and humanness if it were genuine? While being a part of this boiler room community, I think the thing that has been placed at the forefront of my mind has been the reality of the humanness that I possess, as well as the humanness of all others within our community. The failings of all of us in this community has kept us from reaching the unnamed utopia that often lingers in our minds as it relates to community...the so-called picture of harmonious life together. But as of late, I have been wondering if that is truly the goal of community. And I have come to the conclusion that, I don't think it is. I am struck with Bonhoeffer's words as he writes about the nature of true, Christian community. He says that
"Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all out community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it."
This truth of Christ's hand in community as that which comes solely from his creative imagination cause me to approach community from a completely different perspective. I am beginning to realize the beauty in the seemingly weak and insignificant aspects of community that, while unattractive, may be that which God treasures most in our community. It is the realization of our humanness as individuals and yet the unifying work of Jesus Christ in community. A community centered on the bridegroom, Christ, will see the reconciliation and sanctification of broken and sinful hearts that are joined with Him.
I have begun to really appreciate this beautiful community for its brokenness, genuineness, love, support and focus, and yet beyond that, deeper than that, there is a continuing appreciation for Christ's presence in community and his plan for it.
And I will continue to learn about what it all means.