The reason God gives us discernment
about a weakness or a fault in another believer
is so we will bring the issue before God,
praying on behalf of our brother or sister.
…If we spent as much time in intercessory prayer
for others as we do complaining about others,
how would that change the life of our community?
How would that change us?
- JON WALKER, In Visible Fellowship
We weren’t meant to do this alone. The Christian life is lived more fully through community.
That’s what In Visible Fellowship teaches from beginning to end.
Author Jon Walker takes Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thoughts from his classic Life Together and rewrites them for contemporary fellowships—in an excellent and absorbing way.
When I read Bonhoeffer straight, I have to go slow, reread, and flip back. It’s dense and rich and I don’t want to miss a thing. It’s worth it, but reading Walker’s take was much easier, yet still valuable.
We need to spend time with God
in order to remain intimate with God.
Our intimacy with him gives us
the confidence and courage
to develop intimacy with those in the Body of Christ.
Each short chapter (4-5 pages) is organized this way:
- A header quote from Bonhoeffer
Then sections entitled:
- The Big Idea
- Jesus is...
- To be like Jesus...
(I admit I’m a sucker for good organization. This book has it.)
The first five chapters describe how we were created to live in fellowship, sharing God’s grace together, and learning how to love in Christ-community.
The next seven chapters give specific examples of spiritual activities for The Day’s Beginning, such as morning praise, praying the Psalms, singing the new song, etc.
The book progresses into chapters on The Day’s Work, Midday Worship, Evening Worship.
Five chapters are dedicated to The Day Alone, focusing on topics such as When Loneliness Misuses Community, solitude, intercession, and more.
Intercession means no more than to bring
our brother into the presence of God,
to see him under the Cross of Jesus
as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace.
Then everything in him that repels us falls away;
we see him in all his destitution and need.
His need and his sin become so heavy and oppressive
that we feel them as our own,
and we can do nothing else but pray.
– DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
Next are chapters on various ministries—meekness, listening, bearing, etc.
The book ends with six chapters on In Confession and one chapter on The Ministry of Communion.
Bonhoeffer says our unwillingness to listen
to one another reveals a resistance to God:
“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable
to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God
and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.”
Listening is one of the ways we serve others in the Body of Christ.
This book is packed with short but deep thoughts on Christian community. Of how it can be done. And of how we all benefit when it’s done well.
It makes me want to reach out more for it.
(And to read Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together.)
* * *
Walker says, “Our communion with Christ should compel us into communion with each other. Not in the lesser sense of communion—when we say that someone communes with nature—but in a deep, unconditional commitment to each other.”
Do you agree? How is your Christian fellowship? How would you like to see it changed?
Thanks to ACU Press for the review copy of this book.
- Book review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy