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“The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.
“Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.

What was your idea of Christian community in the past? How did God shatter those dreams? How can you participate in God’s reality?

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
– Romans 12:4-8

What body part are you? What is your gift? How do you contribute to the body?

“So, your friends are trying to turn you into a religious consumer, are they, inviting you to their wonderful churches where so much exciting stuff is going on? I would resist it. You’re better off sticking with what you started out with at your Christian re-entry–the ‘smallest and nearest church.’ It’s still my standard counsel in churchgoing. Of course, I admit exceptions, but not for the reasons your friends are setting out. Those several dozen phlegmatic Norwegians, dozing under the liturgical inexpertness of your young pastor, are as good company as any with whom to listen to God’s word and worship his holy name.
“Where did all this frenzy in ‘looking for a good church’ get started, anyway? Certainly not from any passion for holy obedience among the ‘least of these my brethren.’ This church-shopping mentality, where we expect to find a flavor to suit every taste, is spiritually destructive. I don’t see any good coming out of church worship that caters to our taste in worship.”
– Eugene Peterson, The Wisdom of Each Other.

Church shopping is a fairly popular American past-time. We try out churches. We may audition several churches before settling on one. What are the dangers of auditioning churches? How have you seen this play out in your life or the lives of others?

“The biblical way is not to present us with a moral code and tell us ‘Live up to this,’ nor is it to set out a system of doctrine and say, ‘Think like this and you will live well.’ The biblical way is to tell a story that takes place on solid ground, is peopled with men and women that we recognize as being much like us, and then to invite us, ‘Live into this. This is what it looks like to be human. This is what is involved in entering and maturing as human beings.’”
– Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.

How would you summarize the story of the Bible? How do you step into this story to live it on a daily basis?