When I was a teenager and in the middle of self-absorbed angst I counted the days until I could move out of the house and live on my own. Within weeks of my high school graduation I fulfilled part of that plan by moving to Atlanta to begin a fresh journey as an art student. I quickly discovered there really is no such thing as living on my own. Money was always tight, so I needed others to employ me; I knew no one in Atlanta and so I needed to make new friends; and my family, doggone it, was not so bad after all. I found myself coming home most weekends and waiting until the last minute to head back to my lonely studio apartment in Atlanta. Each week my grandmother would fry a chicken and bake a loaf of bread for me to take back with me. It was for me a striking reminder of how our lives are bound together in this life together.
Those are two very simple words that bespeak volumes – life together.
Sometimes life together is a fragile collection of relationships, loosely held and easily broken. In other seasons life together is about tight bonds, loyally woven together in a tapestry of lifelong love.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a little book by the title Life Together while he taught an underground seminary during the dark days of Nazi Germany. In it he describes that the church should be a community of love where forgiveness, acceptance and charity to all is lived and practiced.
Life together. That is what we are seeking too when we speak of the local church – to be a community where we grow in our beliefs because we have found a place to belong centered on life with Jesus and are practicing how to behave as Jesus would.
Church is an imperfect place, fragile and more often than I care to admit, is often misguided towards self-serving tendencies. Yet it is the only place where we can best engage together the matters of life that really matter. Life is too big to be experienced on one’s own. We need each other. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way: “We are tied up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Grateful to walk this part of life with you,