Jon Walker, former Saddleback Church pastor, was intrigued by the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bonhoeffer’s classic book on Christians in community titled Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community. Jon engages this work in his own book In Visible Fellowship.
Jon first stumbled upon Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he was first getting out of college. John read Dietrich’s book The Cost of Discipleship.This book heavily influenced Jon’s ministry and theology. Even though the book was written in 1937, Jon thinks Dietrich’s message is fresh in The Cost of Discipleship and his 1939 work Life Together for today.
According to Jon, Bonhoeffer wrote Life Together when the Nazis in Germany had taken over the official church. Bonhoeffer was one of the pastors who started an independent church, but continually changing laws kept restricting the activities of this independent church.
In Life Together, Bonhoeffer examines the role of Christian obedience and how Christians can use the areas of ministry they have been given to bless each other. Ultimately Bonhoeffer highlights the paramount importance of Christians engaging in community. Jon sees this message as very applicable today.
“God has created us so that we grow Christ-like in community.”
Our maturity in Christ comes from watching how others live a life of faith. In community, fellow believers can give us council. Also, when in community, we can engage the important ministry of bearing each others’ burdens.
Some wonder if engaging in Christian community will diminish their individuality and personality. In contrast, Jon explains that in community our unique talents and gifting come to the surface. Others can recognize our uniqueness and encourage us to use our gifts and talents.
God’s intention behind giving us talents is so that we use them and share them in Christian community. That’s why we have them.