“It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)
Very little of the daily fray beckons us to godliness. We must stand firm and fully aware that an otherworldly battle rages. All around, and every day, the stuff of life threatens our weak frame of mind and the lion’s roar blends all too easily with this week’s catastrophe. I appreciate the reminder, “The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.” We’ve been commissioned to let our light shine. But, we do so behind enemy lines, which is why we need each other.
Last Thursday I returned home from lunch with a friend and my regular hair appointment. Nothing of much substance was on my mind, but as I pulled into my parking place I heard this voice, clear as a bell, “What’s the point of following God, what difference does it really make?” I felt the hot, dark breath of the lion.
Truthfully, I had been struggling with some ministry questions. Not in an “I’m going to quit” sort of way, but enough that I felt sort of disheartened, and a little tiny bit discouraged. I will admit, the enemy’s question heightened my awareness-I’d never heard his voice so clearly before. Maybe what I’d been struggling with was bothering me more than I realized. So, I knew I could go after it alone…I could try and reason the circumstances through on my own…or I could include Bob (which I did) and some of my friends, who are really my mentors, if I’m willing to take the risk, and if I’m willing to peel back a protective layer of my ego and admit I don’t have all the answers.
Bonhoeffer writes, “How inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians!” So, over Chipotle tacos with two of my friends last night, after chatting about summer plans, local sightings of Iron Man 3 film crews, and RDU’s best pizza, I shared some of my struggle. I asked questions, sought wisdom, and not surprisingly, I found life-giving encouragement as we discussed some of the issues I’d been wrestling with. They gave me great perspective, confirmed some ideas, and provided a lot of fresh insight. The Lord used them to remind me that I’m not alone.
May I add, they are half my age. I’m just saying — we’re surrounded by mentors.
One last word from Bonhoeffer, “Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him (and her). He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belaying 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…and that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.”
What about you, what’s going on in your life that you need to get out into the open? Who’s going to be sitting next to you at lunch today? Maybe she’s the bearer and proclaimer of God’s divine word. Go ahead, take a risk.