I probably should have exited earlier. However, my recent conversation with a new friend from Africa was thought provoking and encouraging. The only downside was that it was in the middle of the work day. We were in a nearby store, having just met, and having come from two different continents, but we had Christ in common. At the end of our time, as we were describing our different paths into our different churches, I mentioned something that is at the heart of Christian community, the fact that we are one - one family, one people, one body of Christ.
We see this in the early church. After Jesus had risen from the dead the disciples who had lived through the perplexing and wonder-filled event of the empty tomb didn’t reverse course and throw in the towel but devoted themselves to many things, one of which was to “the fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They devoted themselves to a type of relationship that mirrors the one we have with the risen Christ and expresses itself in the life of the community of those who follow Him. The early disciples committed themselves to one another.
While shepherding 25 pastors in an underground German seminary during WWII, pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reflected on the reality of this community in his book Life Together:
“Christian brotherhood [and sisterhood] is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it.”
Bonhoeffer lived out this reality, which he called a privilege and a gift, to the point of his own death at the hands of the Gestapo. Indeed, the community that we experience at Faith Church, in our small groups, and with new Christian friends is a privilege and a gift. As you ponder the empty tomb this Easter season, I invite you to take another look at the beauty of the relationships He has given us in the body of Christ.
Alleluia. He is Risen!