Life Together is a short theological text by Bonhoeffer reflecting on community and being together. Here are a few interesting quotes from it:
Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. (p. 18)
Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone. Because they cannot stand loneliness, they are driven to seek the company of other people. There are Christians, too, who cannot endure being alone, who have had some bad experienced with themselves, who hope they will gain some help in association with others. They are generally disappointed. Then they blame the fellowship for what is really their own fault … He is really not seeking community at all, but only distraction which will allow him to forget his loneliness for a brief time. (p. 57)
It is one of the particular difficulties of meditation that our thoughts are likely to wander and go their own way, toward other persons or to some events in our life. Much as this may distress and shame us again and again, we must not lose heart and become anxious, or even conclude that meditation is really not something for us. When this happens it is often a help not snatch back our thoughts convulsively, but quite calmly to incorporate into our prayer the people and events to which our thoughts keep straying, and this in all patience return to the starting point of the meditation. (pp. 64-65)
The root of all sin is pride, superbia. I want to be my own law, I have a right to my self, my hatred and my desires, my life and my death. The mind and flesh of man are set on fire by pride: for it is precisely in his wickedness that man wants to be as God. (p. 89)
I love Bonhoeffer’s honesty. In the first quote the way he so succintly highlights that fellowship is crucial to the Christian life. In the second quote Bonhoeffer shows that problems within the Christian fellowship are so often down to selfish attitudes, to a lack of honesty and understanding about what people bring and take from a fellowship. The third quote is really interesting, how do you handle that difficulty of when you are praying and things keep interfering with those prayers – he suggests something that acknowledges that God may have put something on your heart for a particular reason, but at the same time doesn’t allow you to forget your original prayers and thoughts – very helpful. The last is a great summary of sin, and our sinfulness.
It was a short book (only 96 pages) and whilst not always the easiest language it is well worth grabbing hold of a copy and hearing Bonhoeffer’s heart for Christian community.