This was a book that had been languishing on my shelf and my TBR for quite some time, forgotten by me. When I recently re-organized a bookshelf, I came across it and it struck me as perhaps a good book for me to read at this time. Over the past couple of years, our family has been re-evaluating a lot of things and a major one of those is what community and the church will look like for us. This book found me at exactly the right moment as I’ve been praying and reading the Bible to learn more about what my own role should be.
Bonhoeffer is famous for being a 20th century martyr. A German pastor, he was already in the United States as World War II progressed but chose to return to Germany, feeling that his place was with his fellow citizens and Christians there. He was eventually imprisoned and executed. While he is often upheld as an example of Christians fighting against injustice and corrupt government, Life Together is a book that Bonhoeffer wrote in the late 1930s, full of advice on growing and supporting Christian community, despite outside differences.
Bonhoeffer writes of the ideal of the Christian church and community – what it was created and intended to be – while being clear-eyed and honest about the ways this ideal falls flat. He examines why this community is so important, why it matters and what it means for us as individuals. He offers practical advice to foster this community and weather the inevitable difficulties. I’ll be honest, parts were difficult to read as I saw the way they highlighted my own shortcomings. Others offered a hopefulness and encouragement for continued strivings.
Bonhoeffer is practical and realistic. He offers advice on what a communal gathering should involve, how it should be included in your day, and advice on your own personal devotion. The book is divided into sections that make a lot of sense and build on each other.
Obviously this is not a book for everyone but I would also widely recommend it to Christians. The last two years have seen a large upheaval in the Church and even though this book is almost 200 years old, it feels so relevant as so many of us re-examine what it means to be a Christian and how we should live out our faith today. There is encouragement, hope, and accountability here.