Needless to say, when I read this excerpt below from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Life Together" I was shocked, surprised and concerned.
After all we have spent some time over the past few months considering "God's vision" for this church community. And then I read this ....
Beware of visions for church
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. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.
When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.
Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by his call, by his forgiveness, and his promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what he does give us daily.
Wow! Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a person that I admire for his theological perspectives - but even more for his willingness to "walk the talk" even when his choices were all less than desirable in the face of Nazi Germany's idolatry.
So, at first glance it appears we have been, according to Bonhoeffer, doing that which God "hates" with our discussion and consideration of "vision." And I don't know about you but the prospect of being "hated by God" is not an enviable position in which I want to find myself.
Well, when one reads the above excerpt carefully one discovers that what we are doing is not "hated," but in fact is exactly what God desires and challenges us (and others) to do.
Notice, that Bonhoeffer points to the "visionary dreaming ... which makes the dreamer proud and pretentious." Why? Because, as Bonhoeffer points out, the "vision" is all about what "the dreamer" wants and believes and demands.
The point I believe that Bonhoeffer makes is that it is God who is to be the source of the visioning and the dreaming rather than looking to or depending on a person or persons. When it is a "personal" vision, Bonhoeffer's description is striking - "When things do not go (one's) way, (that one) calls the effort a failure."
However, if this "visioning" is instead rooted in a listening for, a discerning of and a following of God's lead then that vision will be one of which we will not need to be afraid. In fact it will be one to be celebrated!
This, in fact, is what we have been striving to do - to listen for God's vision for PPC. So, just to be clear - we are not "hated!"
This Fall we will be inviting those who would like to participate to take the "Next Step" of learning and discerning God's vision as we will engage in times of Bible study, discussion and prayer.
If you take a look at the "board" in Parry Hall, you will find that there are a number of index cards there with a wide variety of insights, ideas and observations. It is wonderful to see God at work in and through this church community in this way. Please be sure to keep adding "cards" to the board as you contemplate "what God's vision is for PPC."
If this "Next Step" is something in which you might like to participate or feel called to share in or that about which you would like to learn more, contact Pastor Dave and get on "the list."