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Book Recommendations for Christians: Life Together

May 29, 2024 | Luke Proctor

I can’t make you very many promises, but here’s one promise that I know I’ll be able to keep with 100% certainty: I will disappoint you.

At our Starting Point class for new people at church, I often like to say, “Well, the fact that you’re here probably means that we haven’t offended you yet. But stick around, we will.” If you hang around Plainfield Christian Church long enough, at some point we will let you down.

So, here’s the question: When that moment comes, what will you do?

It’s graduation season. Somebody asked me last week what piece of advice I would give a graduating senior as they enter a new chapter of their lives, embarking boldly on the great adventure of life, armed with hope and zeal and naivete. The first thing that came to my mind was this: “Never give up on the church, no matter how bad she hurts you.”

 I can’t think of a book (other than the Bible) that paints a more beautiful picture of a disappointing church than Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer was a Christian leader in Germany in the early 1900’s who was killed in a concentration camp near the end of World War II. His writings have been deeply influential on my life and many others, perhaps none more impactful than his reflections on Christian community in this short little book. 

In Life Together, Bonhoeffer talks about how each of us enters into the church with a dream, an idea of what we think the church should look like. But actually, Bonhoeffer says, that dream often hinders us from loving the church for who she really is.

Bonhoeffer writes, “Every human wish-dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

At some point, our illusion of what the church should be always gets shattered, often in deeply painful ways. In that moment, the question God gives us is: Will you love the church anyway? Bonhoeffer says this, and only this, is true gospel-shaped love.

 Real love always begins with disillusionment.

You know this in your marriage. When the honeymoon is over and real life begins and it’s messy, that’s real love. When we choose to love people for who they actually are, rather than just who we wish they were, that’s the truest form of devotion.

And praise God, this is how Jesus has loved us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). We are called to love as God loved. And how did God love us? When we were in our ugliest, most disgusting state, he chose to love us anyway.

The next time the church hurts you...

The next time a brother or sister offends you...

The next time you’re tempted to be bitter...

The next time you want to avoid someone in the hallway...

The next time I disappoint you...

The next time you disappoint me...

Take a moment to imagine the depth of Jesus’ love: how he was whipped and beaten for that person. If that person were the only person on earth, Jesus would’ve still come and died, just for them. Then, choose to love anyway.

In the meantime, I promise to keep my promise, and hope to disappoint you for many years to come!

I love you all,





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Plainfield Christian Church

800 Dan Jones Rd | Plainfield, Indiana 46168