One of my biggest convictions since becoming a believer is that I need Christian community in my life.
Because of my community, I've grown so much in my faith, and I've enjoyed countless opportunities to serve God and serve each other. And I'm grateful for the friends and mentors God has placed around me who have provided godly counsel and friendship, especially during times of confusion and distress.
But if I am to be completely honest, there are some parts of me that dislike Christian community, that shy away from fully participating and being a part of it.
There were times where I was hurt - and caused hurt - to others in the church community I belonged to. There were months where I was stewing in my anger at how things were done and what people were doing in my community that I felt was wrong or misguided. There was deep disappointment and disillusionment at the actions, as well as the inaction, of leaders in my community.
In the end, I resolved not to be too involved (for fear of getting hurt or angry), and decided to contribute the "bare minimum".
(Note: I want to share all this negativity I felt because I believe it is important to do so - not because I want to point out the flaws or failings of my Christian community, but because I recognise that I need healing in this aspect, and that I need God to cleanse the mud from my eyes and help me to see again.)
Now that I've moved to another country and found a new Christian community in Vancouver, I've gained fresh perspectives on our innate desires to be seen and recognised. I've also felt led to volunteer for my church here, almost like God was leading me to re-learn what it means to serve one another in community.
One book that has also offered me immense nuggets of wisdom on this topic is Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community".
Written in 1939, "Life Together" is a record of the German theologian's experiences in the seminary at Finkenwalde after the Gestapo closed it in 1937. In it, Bonhoeffer shares his reflections and thoughts on community, and described this time as the fullest period of his life.
Bonhoeffer's book has enlightened me and convicted me on so many levels. For one, I acknowledge that I am not an entity existing unto myself and living for my own purposes within the community; rather, I am there to serve, to give, and to bless others.
For two, I recognise the importance of solitude in my own walk with Jesus - that only when I cultivate a deeper relationship with God can I approach being in community in a less selfish, and more selfless, fashion.
For three, I see more clearly the dangers in imposing my own "ideal" version of Christian community on the community I belong to, as well as the damages it will inflict. Bonhoeffer's words challenge me to accept and love my current community, as imperfect as it may be.
Continue scrolling to read some of my favourite excerpts from the book - including pinnable quotes you can share on Pinterest - that spoke to me about the importance of Christian community, what characterises it, and how to celebrate and contribute to it.
The importance of community
What Christian community looks like
Living with one another in community
What are your thoughts or reflections on Christian community and on Bonhoeffer's perspective? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!