Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
For the past two weeks I have been sharing about community – the life we experience as a church family as we love one another, care for one another, forgive one another, bear with one another, and encourage one another. We have seen that this kind of community is not something we can find, but rather it is something we must build. For even if such community is present among the other church members, the only way we can personally experience it is as we do those things that foster community.
In other words, we cannot experience for ourselves the community that others are building among themselves; we experience it only as we actively participate in it by doing things such as living out the “one another” statements I referred to last week.
This week I will close this three-part series by pointing out a danger we must avoid as we seek to build community. The German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer brought this danger to light when he wrote, “Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community.”
It is easy to love our dream of Christian community, the way we envision the loving and supportive environment we would like to see happen. But how can we end up destroying Christian community if we love our of dream of Christian community more than the community itself? Maybe not everyone shares our dream, and so disregard them. Maybe some individuals are not trying to bring that dream into reality, so we resent them. And in the church, we encounter people who have flaws, who try our patience, who sometimes disappoint us and frustrate us, people who at times are hard to love. These are not the kind of people we desire to build community with so we avoid them and seek out others that are more compatible with us. Dreaming of the ideal church may prevent us from loving the real church.
Genuine Christian community is such a wonderful gift that God gives us and which we then must cultivate. We do that by first committing ourselves to our brothers and sisters in Christ just as they are, not as we wish they were, and then putting into practice the “one another” statements. As we do that, our sense of community at IBCZ will grow and deepen.
Grace and peace,