Life Together

In March 1935 Bonhoeffer had spent a week at the Anglican Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, a monastic community for whom the gospel speaks "of a Christ who took on flesh, became human, lived with the poor, the outcast and died the death of a criminal." Mirfield's own history thus describes its founders: "So they came to grimy, smoky, industrial Yorkshire to live the monastic life."34 This was one model Bonhoeffer drew upon when he arrived at Finkenwalde a few months later, particularly for the "community of brothers" that he formed there as he undertook a decidedly un-Lutheran experiment in "monastic" community.

Life Together recollects the daily life at Finkenwalde and the theology of community undergirding it.35 This is no monastic retreat from the world, nor does it imply a turn away from the costliness of grace demanded by The Cost of Discipleship. Rather, here Bonhoeffer had the chance to live out in intentional community his theology of sociality, putting into practice, like the community at Mirfield, a "worldly" and engaged spirituality, belief hand-in-glove with obedience.

"To learn not merely to tolerate, but to delight in, the freedom of the other," Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together, is not the maximal requirement for the Christian. It is a minimal description of our utter faith in God's ways ... It means the recognition, indeed our delight, that God did not make others as I would have made them. God did not give them to me so that I could dominate and control them, but so that I might find the Creator by means of them . . . God does not want me to mold others into the image that seems good to me, that is, into my own image. Instead, in their freedom from me God made other people in God's own image.36

And it is the supreme expression of God's love for us that when God's son took on flesh, he truly and bodily, out of pure grace, took on our being, our nature, ourselves . . . Now we are in him. Wherever he is, he bears our flesh, he bears us. And, where he is, there we are too - in the incarnation, on the cross, and in his resurrection. We belong to him because we are in him. That is why the scriptures call us the body of Christ.37

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