For my birthday in 2012, my husband took our then family of three to Trier, Germany for the first time. Trier is the oldest city in Germany and home to the northernmost Roman ruins in Europe. This city is amazing to explore (so much so that we went back three more times). Near the parking lot we used, we found the Dietrich Bonhoeffer House – and of course, took a photo. This house is a community center with 43 low-income apartments, meeting rooms, a youth center, and a kitchen. You can read more here (but you may have to translate it).
So often, we don’t get this “community” thing right. We might think someone else will take care of it, or that there are government programs to help. God gave each of us the task of loving our neighbor. Love always serves. We may not be able to provide for every need, but we can do something. Take a new mama (or mama with a new baby) a meal, offer a listening ear to someone grieving, read to a widow in the nursing home, and share life with others.
“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word, but also lends us God’s ear.”
From the creation of the world, God’s design has been perfect. He created everything in just the right order to sustain life. Light, separation of the waters above and below the land, vegetation, seasons, fish, birds, animals, and people. Just as He created the world in the right order, He designed an order of relationship and community. He created man and woman, establishing marriage. He commanded that they be fruitful and multiply, establishing families. Larger clans and tribes then formed communities. In these communities, each member had a role and all needs were met. After God gives the Law, specific provisions are laid out on HOW to care for the less fortunate, the destitute, the widows, and orphans. After the church is established, we see community once again taking care of each other, no one had any need, they shared everything, and took care of each other.
“Who can really be faithful in great things if he has not learned to be faithful in the things of daily life?”
Our oldest son is named after the theologian and author, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The name Dietrich means “leader of the people.” Our son has quite the namesake to live up to just as we have a big responsibility to teach him. One of Bonhoeffer’s works focuses on the Christian community. Life Together is a fairly short book but packed with valuable insight into building a strong community of faith and fellowship. I listened to the book, only three and a half hours, on one of my trips. The downside of this is one cannot take notes and drive at the same time. Fortunately, since Bonhoeffer is one of my husband’s favorites, we have the book (which he read in one night in college).
“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”
As I listened, I thought “Stay-at-home moms were not the original audience for this book.” Still, many tidbits are applicable across all stages and stations of life. The overall point of the book is that the Christian life is meant to be lived TOGETHER, not alone.