Bonhoeffer on conflict in the community

I’m posting a few quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US which I recently reviewed (here).

Today some quotes on conflict in the community.

‘No sooner are people together than they begin to observe, judge, and classify each other. Thus, even as Christian community is in the process of being formed, an invisible, often unknown, yet terrible life-and-death struggle commences.’ (93)

‘Thus it is a good idea that all members receive a definite task to perform for the community, so that they may know in times of doubt that they too are not useless and incapable of doing anything. Every Christian community must know that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the community.’ (96)

‘What does it matter if I suffer injustice [from others in the community]? Would I not have deserved even more severe punishment from God if God had not treated me with mercy? Is not justice done to me a thousand times over even in injustice? … Those who live by justification by grace are prepared to accept even insults and slights without protest, taking them as from God’s chastising and gracious hand.’ (97)

‘A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner. That is a blessed discovery for the Christian who is beginning to offer intercessory prayer for others. As far as we are concerned, there is no dislike, no personal tension, no disunity or strife, that cannot be overcome by intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the community must enter every day.’ (90)

‘Those who take refuge in community while fleeing from themselves are misusing it to indulge in empty talk and distraction, no matter how spiritual this idle talk and distraction may appear.’ (82)

Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community … But the reverse is also true. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone.’ (82)
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4 thoughts on “Bonhoeffer on conflict in the community

  1. A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me.

    Love it – it’s getting me thinking. I realise I’ve always thought of praying for each member of the congregation as part of “the pastor’s job” – I’ve never generalised it. But if “ministry” is soemthing for every disciple to be involved in (and I’m convinced it is), then why not praying for each person? In pastoral ministry, I’ve never actually tried to organise or encourage that kind of systematic “intercessory prayer” for each member across the whole church community.

  2. I am an introvert and find it difficult being with a lot of people all the time. My wife is Pentecostal and that church seems to me to be too happy clappy. Life has for me been a struggle, a mother who went mental when I was 2 years old and stayed in hospital 18 years, a father who died in a fire when I was nine. Why does God allow some peoples lives to be so crappy. You spend the rest of your life, using you energy to keep your internal control when sometimes you feel like screaming like the psalmist does.I know how Bonhoeffer must have felt, never quiet knowing whether he would surivive to be with his Maria, and hold her hand on that sofa

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