Brotherhood—It’s a Real Thing Not a Feeling


It is part of my yearly pattern. I reread, Bonhoeffer’s LIFE TOGETHER. Recently, the book has popped up a number of times in mentoring or counseling situations so now seemed like a good time for me to begin the process this year. And every time I am humbled by its wisdom and understanding of the biblical teaching on fellowship and loving one another as brothers and sisters first.

Bonhoeffer“Christian community is like the Christian’s sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, . . . What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as Christians should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.

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.*  The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and for it.

Because Christian community is founded solely on Jesus Christ, it is a spiritual and not a psychic reality. . . .

The community of the Spirit is the fellowship of those who are called by Christ.”

Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 30-31

* I would love to see the last phrase in the German sentence. I wonder if a better translation might not be “must participate” rather than the weaker “may participate.”

Bonhoeffer’s is right. Christian brotherhood is a spiritual, i.e. a God created reality, not a psychic, i.e. not a feeling. Whether you feel love for your brother is immaterial. If you both belong to Jesus, you both belong to one another. If that irritating guy or gal is truly in Christ, he or she is your brother or sister in Christ. They are family. You can pick your friends, but your family is yours forever. 

Remember that. And remember to love one another. It’s how we demonstrate that we belong to Jesus.

(Cf. John 13:34-35, 15:12, 17, Romans 12:10, 13:8, Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:9 5:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:22, 4:8, 1 1 John 3:11, 23, 4:7, 11-12, 2 Peter 5).

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