"The church is only the church when it exists for others." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The quotation by Bonhoeffer is true by definition. This fact does not take away from the meaningfulness of the statement since it also clarifies the implicit.
The church is a body. Each person is a part in the body. You see that each person is not an island or on their own. There is a unity and cohesion.
When the church functions well each person is concerned for the other. Always we must have concern for ourselves as well, but we must also have concern for the other.
The concern for others flows from this that God had concern for us while we were his enemies. You see the radical nature that God wished to open up a relationship with estranged man and make him co-heirs with his son Jesus to the entire universe.
Often it is hard to want to give. I am tired, we think. Often we are tired because we are unfulfilled and have done nothing we consider of value. It is very surprising that sometimes our issues are much better after we have had concern for others.
Kierkegaard speaks of an inward orientation to fallen man. Man is ill in one sense because he cares to much about himself. In caring too much about himself he often harms himself emotionally.
It is never purposeful but always man on his own is miserable. You see man was meant for community. God who created man willed for man to be communal. In fellowship with God and other men.
But man on his own often would like to isolate from the world. The tendency is easy to understand. Many difficult things happen in community. Even small bad words or awkward situations are draining.
But man often responds worse by secluding himself. In seclusion he is often far worse than he was previously. You see that it is not good to be alone.
Man was alone in the garden with only God and it was not good. So man created woman. We often in life compound our problems by how we try to solve our problems.
The difficulty is that God has a lot of solutions which on the surface don't sound very good. We simply know that God is wrong or so we think. It is often with God the longer we think about his "wrong" solutions the more we see they are plausible.
After a while these plausibilities often become realized to be correct. The bible is always right even when we think it is wrong. Often we judge so quickly and move on.
You see there are better ways for man to live than he often does. Man has a tendency to trade short term pleasure for long term happiness. Man is very shortsighted at times.
God is more concerned about man’s real happiness. God sees the bigger picture and accordingly does not offer advice and commands which are only for the moment.
That an eternal God outside of time knows better than man is not surprising. Men often make strange objections to God's will as if the church has made up the idea of God being outside of time to explain things.
The reality is that they simply need to turn to Genesis. All of the universe was created out of nothing. You see God existed and then he created the universe out of scratch.
It is not the way people create a pie out of "scratch" using some base ingredients. It is a little scratch where first the ingredients were created.
God create man as well. It isn't surprising that God knows man so well having created him. It would be surprising if God did not know the nature and needs of his creation well.
God created man in his image. Man is created to be a being filled with love. A love of God and fellow man. Man is at his best in community, that is why the church is a community called to serve not to be served.
A Post on Bonhoeffer on Preaching