Walker provides a contemporary view of Bonhoeffer's work, Life Together.
We were never meant to live life alone. God designed us to need the help of others to be who He wants us to be. “God created us to live together in community, so thoroughly and unconditionally interdependent on each other that we operate as if we are parts of a Body moving together for one purpose.” (15)
It is God's love that makes genuine community possible. It is a community based solely and wholly on our relationship to Jesus. It is a spiritual community, not a social or human one.
In this fellowship, we help each other mature into Christians full of truth and grace. We strengthen and challenge each other. We learn to unconditionally love one another through commitment.
Following Bonhoeffer's direction, Walker says our day should begin with morning praise, communal prayer and reading God's Word. Then there is to be fellowship at the table.
The daytime work is used by God to strip away our self-centeredness, forcing us to focus on tasks beyond ourselves. In the midst of the day we pause and remember the day belongs to God.
The day is ended as it began, praying the Psalms, singing hymns, and sharing common prayer. As Walker notes, “Jesus isn't just part of our lives; he is our Life...” (81) Jesus should get the last word.
We are to be in community not to avoid loneliness but to be in deep relationship with God and in deep commitment to one another.
Bonhoeffer also said Christians needed to set aside some time every morning in solitude and silence, for Scripture meditation, prayer, and intercession. “We need to spend time with God in order to remain intimate with God.” (90) We will be tested during the day, to see if our time with God sticks or slips away.
Walker explores the ministry to be experienced in community, such as speaking the truth to one another, meekness, service, and listening, for example. “We must allow one another the freedom to be sinners, rather than hiding behind masks of piety.” (143)
Walker has included an emphasis on Jesus at the end of each chapter, a Scripture and questions for pondering.
This book would be great for a small group and for congregational study. Walker has created a book that takes Bonhoeffer's concepts and presents them in bite size chunks. As one who has read Bonhoeffer and gotten a bit bogged down, I really appreciate Walker's work.
Jon Walker worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, eventually pastor at Saddleback Church. He has also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay's HomeLife magazine and founding editor of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. He is the author of Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship (2010). He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about his ministry at www.gracecreates.com.
I received a copy of this book from Leafwood Publishers for the purpose of this review.