Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together, a book exploring Christian community, writes:
“Christianity means community through Jesus and in Jesus.”
In that statement Bonhoeffer blends two concepts into one succinct sentence:
(1) Only those who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior experience Christian community.
You can’t pay your way into Christian community. You can’t join it like you can a club or organization. Nor can you become apart of it through family ties. That’s because Christian community is a gathering of believers. A gathering you can only enter into through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
(2) Only those who are empowered by Jesus can live in Christian community.
We not only must experience the grace, love, mercy, peace and forgiveness of God before we can express it in community, but we must also be empowered by Jesus to live in Christian community in a way that honors Him.
Christian community is comprised of people from every walk of life, nationality, race, socioeconomic class, etc. It is a melting pot that is ignited and sustained by Jesus. Only through His empowering are we able to live together in a way that honors Him.
Bonhoeffer is right. Without Jesus there is no Christian community. We need Him to create it through His death on the cross. As well as we need Him to sustain it. Christian community then, in Bonhoeffer’s words, does in fact occur “through Jesus and in Jesus.”