At Camp Wapogasset this week, a college-age counselor spoke during chapel about the significance of Christian community. She evoked the camp theme “In Our Midst,” based on Jesus’ promise, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20. The counselor spoke of the challenges her family faced when her father was laid off from his job and had to search 18 months for a new job in a different state. She knew that God was giving her strength through the Christian community she experienced on staff at Camp Wapogasset. Her words in turn gave hope and life to those who listened, including me.
Near the end of her talk she quoted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together, in which Bonhoeffer described his work to build a confessing Lutheran Seminary in Nazi Germany.
But God has put this Word into the mouth 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. p. 23
God has created us to be in community, but we often resist it. Our American culture celebrates the rugged individualist who creates success by his or her self: the self-made man or woman. Yet I cannot be fully human without being connected to others. God made me to be with others, with my faults and inconsistencies as well as my strengths and gifts. Only in community with other Christians do I fully experience the vibrant life of faith in Jesus.
I am so thankful the children and youth have the opportunity to experience Christian community, with all its joys, sorrows, sweat and discomfort through mission trips and Bible camp. Remember, wherever two or three are gathered in his name, Jesus is in our midst.
In what ways or places have you experienced authentic Christian community?
Lord Jesus, show me the path that leads me to community with others.