Who doesn’t love a “Top Ten” List?  There is even a website devoted to the listing of lists of top ten things.  There you can find . . .

The Top Ten Scariest Animals on Earth
The Top Ten Countries with the Best Food
The Top Ten Most Terrible Events in History
The Top Ten Greatest People of All Time
The Top Ten Most Common Geography Mistakes, and
The Top Ten Things You Learned in School that Are Now Useless

Now, I realize that I only listed six items of what you would find on the “top tens” website, but I will now make up for that. I am going to do the website two better. Here are, in my opinion, the top twelve quotes from Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together. (Why? Because twelve is better than ten!). I figured this would be a great way for us to think through the book and to review what was really important.  So, here they are . . .  the top twelve quotes (with a quick introductory statement that gives the gist). 

  1. Our calling is to serve, not only those whom we love and enjoy, but even our enemies.

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him.
On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers.
For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.
So, the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.
There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.
And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ;
he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies,
not with the bad people but the devout people.
O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ!
If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).”

  1. We are called to pray for one another and even for those with whom we struggle.

“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members
for one another, or it collapses.
I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray,
no matter how much trouble he causes me.
His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me,
is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother
for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”

  1. We often blame the failure of our community on others, when the reality is, it is our fault.

“Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone.
Because they can’t stand loneliness, they are driven to seek the company of other people.
As a result, when they enter into a community, they are disappointed.
Worse, they often blame the fellowship
for what is really their own fault.”

  1. The only way to minister to others fully is through humility and a deep awareness of our own brokenness and sin.

“If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable
in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all.
My sin is of necessity the worst, the most grievous, and the most reprehensible.
Brotherly love will find any number of extenuations for the sins of others;
not only for my sin is there no apology whatsoever.
Therefore, my sin is the worst.
He who would serve his brother in the fellowship
must sink all the way down to these depths of humility.
How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility
if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?”

  1. Faith and obedience go hand-in-hand.

“Faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it.
 And faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience.”

  1. Our calling is to listen so that, when the time is right, we may speak the Word of God.

“Just as love to God begins with listening to his Word,
so the beginning of love for the brethren
is learning to listen to them.
It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word, but also lends us his ear.
So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him.
But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them
by Him who is Himself the great listener
and whose work they should share.
We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.”

  1. Love demands that we bear one another’s burdens.

“The law of Christ is a law of bearing.”

  1. Giving thanks allows us to see each other as they really are, as people in need of grace.

“Because God has already laid the foundation of our fellowship,
because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians,
we need to enter into that common life, not as those who make demands,
but as thankful recipients.
We thank God for what he has done for us.
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.
Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life,
is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, also, stand under the Word of Christ?
Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks
that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ.”

  1. We must be aware of the sin of self-deception so that we are not simply dismissing our sin.

“Have we not been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God?
Have we not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves
and also granting ourselves absolution?”

  1. The root of all sin is pride, but confession nails pride to the cross.  

“The root of all sin is pride. I want to be my own law.
I have a right to myself, my hatred and my desires, my life and my death.
The mind and flesh of man are set on fire by pride;
for it is precisely in his wickedness that man wants to be as God.
Confession in the presence of a brother is the profoundest kind of humiliation.
It hurts, it cuts a man down, it is a dreadful blow to pride.
To stand there before a brother as a sinner is an ignominy that is almost unbearable.
In the confession of concrete sins,
the old man dies a painful, shameful death before the eyes of a brother.
Because this humiliation is so hard,
we continually scheme to evade confessing to a brother.
Our eyes are so blinded that they no longer see
the promise and the glory in such abasement.”

  1. Sin seeks to make us run from community, but healing comes as we enter into it through the confession of sin and the declaration of forgiveness. 

“In confession the breakthrough to community takes place.
Sin demands to have a man by himself.
It withdraws him from the community.
The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him,
and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.
Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light.
In the darkness of the unexpressed, it poisons the whole being of a person.
This can happen even in the midst of a pious community.
In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart.
The sin must be brought into the light.
The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged.
All that is secret and hidden is made manifest.
It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted.
But God breaks gates of bronze and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16).”

  1. Dare to be a sinner!

“The fact is we are sinners!
But it is the grace of the gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand,
that it confronts us with the truth and says,
‘You are a sinner, a great desperate sinner;
now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you.
God has come to save the sinner, Be glad!’
This message is liberation through truth.
You can hide nothing from God.
The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him.
He wants to see you as you are. He wants to be gracious to you.
You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin;
you can dare to be a sinner!”

I hope you found Bonhoeffer as insightful as I did. If you did, then maybe you are up for a challenge.  I would suggest that you take one of these twelve quotes (for instance, your favorite) and memorize it (or memorize the gist of it). If you do this, whenever the occasion arises, you can drop a little Bonhoeffer into the conversation. And that is a great way to make “Life Together” come together in a way that pulls together Bonhoeffer’s Life and our life today.

Today’s post is the last in this series. Next week, we will start a new topic, but that is next week. For now, thanks for reading.