“He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. … If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.”
I found this quote on another blog and it really struck me. (Can anybody help me out on the ettiquette in a case like this? Should I have asked permission to “steal” the quote they found?)
Bonhoefer either wrote or was trasnlated in a manner that was a bit provocative. But his words are incredibly important, both to me in my role as small groups guy and for people participating in Christian communities.
Just recently I was in a discussion about walking a balance between not wanting to meddle to much into the natural, organic existence of relationships. The more structure and support I create the more artificial the relationships become. In Bonhoefer’s words, the more visionary I am the more we lose authenticity.
There is relevance for the billions of people on planet Earth who are not involved in small group ministries, here. It’s so easy for us to long for different sorts of relationships. To look at the people we are “stuck” with (whether this is by accident of birth, location, past decisions, or knuckleheaded small group directors) and wish they were different.
I find it a bit ironic: Bonhoefer was one of the few Protestants who spoke out against the Nazis. This lead to his death. If Christians had acted more like a real community and stepped up with him, perhaps things would have turned out differently.