Bonhoeffer’s LIFE TOGETHER


It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privelege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of His enemies. And at the end, all His disciples deserted Him. On the Cross, He was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers (17).

God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others (22).

He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial (27).

Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ (28).

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 (30).

Where His truth enjoins me to dissolve a followship for love’s sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love. Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves an enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and his Word (35).

…I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is, as one for whom Christ became man, died, and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life (35-36).

If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend even a chapter of the Old Testament in sequence, then this can only fill us with profound shame…Can the realization of our fault, our ignorance of the Word of God, have any other consequence than that we should earnestly and faithfully retrieve what has been neglected? (51-52).

Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone… The person who comes into a fellowship because he is running away from himself is misusing it for the sake of diversion, no matter how spiritual this diversion may appear (76).

One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair (78).

“There arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be the greatest” (Luke 9:46)… this is enough to destroy a fellowship… from the first moment when a man meets another person he is looking for a strategic position he can assume and hold over and against that person (90-91).

A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable (94).

How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own? (97)

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them… Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others… They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking (97).

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps – reading the Bible (99).

Only where hands are not too good for deeds of love and mercy in everyday helpfulness can the mouth joyfully and convincingly proclaim the message of God’s love and mercy (100).

Why add to the empty talk? Are we, like the professionally pious, to “talk away” the other person’s real need?(104)

The question of trust, which is so closely related to that of authority, is determined by the faithfulness with which a man serves Jesus Christ, never by the extraordinary talents which he possesses… who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers submitted to the authority of the Word (109).

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5 thoughts on “Bonhoeffer’s LIFE TOGETHER

    • I don’t think he lost it…He was killed in a concentration camp after being imprisoned during WW2 because he openly opposed the Nazis.

      BTW, this post makes me want to read Life Together again. SO good! I also highly recommend his book, Letters and Papers from Prison.

      • Yeah… the back of the book says that he was martyred for a plot to kill Hitler.

        I already own COST OF DISCIPLESHIP, so I think I’ll try that one next. I’ll keep LETTERS AND PAPERS FROM PRISON in mind, though. 🙂

        • COST OF DISCIPLESHIP is certainly a slower read — there’s so much to digest — but the chapter on grace is amazing enough to consider it one of my absolute favorites.

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