Connect | Mark 3:13-19
He climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve, and designated them apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority to banish demons. These are the Twelve:
Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),
James, son of Zebedee, John, brother of James (Jesus nicknamed the Zebedee brothers Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”),
James, son of Alphaeus,
Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite,
and Judas Iscariot – who betrayed him. Mark 3:13-19 | MSG
“Only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship. Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship. It is not as though the one preceded the other; both begin at the same time, namely, with the call of Jesus Christ. Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair. Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Life Together is a classic, brief, 122 page exploration and discussion written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and published as Gemeinsames Leben in 1938. It’s a book that flowed from his experience of Christian community when he shared a common life in emergency built houses with 25 vicars. There is little dreamy idealism to be found in its pages of Utopian Christian fellowship and what it should look like. It’s a exploration of the reality of it, its rhythms, its ebbs and its flows. The call to Christian community, to embrace the practice of connection and fellowship, ultimately emanates from the life practice of Jesus himself. Jesus knew how to stay out in solitary places; he also deliberately chose twelve men in whose company he literally spent his life. First and foremost he chose these men to be with him; secondarily he chose them so he could later send them out into the wide world of kingdom work. In our final week of reflections on the spiritual disciplines as we focus on the spiritual practice of community, I’m going to step back and allow Scripture and the words of Bonhoeffer in Life Together to speak to us, to lead us into healthy paths and practices of connecting with each other in dynamic, life-giving, face-to-face encounters.
Do you find yourself more frequently drawn to be around other people or to be alone? Why? What are some of the benefits you have experienced from being with others in community?
Lord, work into me healthy rhythms of being by myself and being with others. Keep me from the pitfalls and perils of each. Show me how to be alone and away from the constant noise of company and show me how (and where and when!) to step out of my solitude into companionship with others.
Look for an opportunity to take a leisurely walk with a friend this week with the simple agenda of enjoying each other and your time together.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.