In Visible Fellowship (book review)

This is the second book that Jon Walker has written as a modern-day commentary of a classic Dietrich Bonhoeffer work. This time around Jon takes a look at Bonhoeffer’s Life Together in his book called In Visible Fellowship. (Jon’s first book is Costly Grace, looking at Bonhoeffer’s The Cost Of Discipleship. You can read my review of that book by clicking here.)

In visible fellowship is a phrase that Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to describe the importance of how Christians interact with each other. To Bonhoeffer, it wasn’t so much how Christians behaved in church on Sundays, but how they interacted with each other the other six days of the week. He wanted those outside of the Christian community to see something so attractive and appealing about the way the Christian community operated “in visible fellowship” with each other.

In Visible Fellowship is an excellent companion piece to Life Together. Whereas Costly Grace could almost stand on its own, In Visible Fellowship is probably best read in conjunction with Life Together. In other words, I would highly recommend that both be read at the same time.

Since Jon notes, “There is no such thing as independent study in the curriculum of Christ,” I would further recommend that In Visible Fellowship and Life Together be read with other Christians. A small group could read Life Together, and then use In Visible Fellowship as their study guide as they gather together. Toward this end, each chapter has some excellent questions that should really stimulate lively conversations.

I’m a huge fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Jon Walker has done an excellent job in bringing some thought-provoking contemporary views to these classic works. I recommend In Visible Fellowship (especially when read with Life Together).

I am an ACU Press book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—You Must Say, “You Must”

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

You Must Say, “You Must”

     If we do not fit ourselves by practice when there is no crisis, we shall find that our nature will fail us when the crisis comes. The grace of God never fails, but we may fail the grace of God. Unless our nervous system is made the ally of the new life from God it becomes a humiliation to us, and we sit down under a tyranny of nerves. Once we receive the Holy Spirit we must sit down to nothing. … When your nervous system, which has been ruled by the wrong disposition, is inclined to say “I can’t,” you must say, “You must,” and to your amazement you find you can!

From Biblical Ethics

The time to learn how to do the God-honoring thing is when there is no crisis in my life. That’s my training time, to prepare me for when the heat is on. The apostle Paul learned this too. As a result of his training, he learned to tell himself, “You must,” in every circumstance:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can [I must!] do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Don’t waste your non-crisis times. Learn from them how God wants to help you in the midst of your crisis.

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