“The community of the saints is not an ‘ideal’ community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
If you have never read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I highly recommend it as a realistic look at living in the Christian communion of saints.
I reviewed this book earlier this week, and although it doesn’t specifically apply to our month’s theme, Laity, the author does have some important things to say about what he calls “engaging with others.” To be successful as laypeople we must be able to get along and work well with one another. In any congregation there are differences: differences in background, education, ability, understanding and more. Sometimes these differences lead to conflict. When that happens, Gregory Spencer points to the 4th Chapter of Ephesians for a guide to “reframing” our outlook. Maybe you’ll find it helpful.
“An extended biblical passage that addresses “engaging with others” is Ephesians 4. Paul reminds his readers of what makes for a strong community. Overall we maintain unity by living peacefully (3) and fulfilling our various roles and callings (4-13). We do this by putting off the old self and putting on the new self (22-34, some obvious reframing here), feeding certain character qualities–humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love(2) industriousness (28), compassion and forgiveness(32) –and by starving sensual indulgence (17-19), extended anger, bitterness, brawling, slander and malice(31). I’m particularly taken with the admonitions to speak the truth in love (15,25) and to talk for the sake of building others up (29).”