by Chris Banescu –
This Nativity season it’s good to remember the sacramental role that a Christian community plays in our lives. Man was not created to be alone but live in communion with God and other human beings. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian martyr and theologian, reminds us that our brothers are the means through which Christ, the Word of God, reaches us most powerfully and effectively.
We need each other because the Christ in our “own heart is weaker that the Christ in the word” of our brother. Our own heart can sometimes be uncertain, but our brother’s is sure. That’s why we need other Christians as bearers and proclaimers “of the divine word of salvation” to remind us of the Word of God.
Similarly, C.S. Lewis wrote, quoting Dr. Johnson, that “people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” “The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back…to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump,” Lewis observed.
But God has put this Word into the mouths 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. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him.
He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.
And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation. As such, God permits them to meet together and give them community. Their fellowship is founded solely upon Jesus Christ and this “alien righteousness.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together)