The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the one who loves those around them will create community.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community quoted in the neighboring church: getting better at what Jesus said matters most by Rick Rusaw and Brian Mavis.
It took me a while to find this quote since I’m reading two books right now. The first is a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and I thought the quote must be there. It wasn’t, but instead was one of those chapter starting quotes so popular now. Regardless, I think there is a very important principle in these words.
I don’t think I’m unusual. I find it much easier to play with ideas, than to relate to the people next door. Ideas, plans, and programs I can control. Sometimes the results are okay and sometimes they’re not. The important thing is that if I’m in control I’m minimizing the risk of anything messy happening. If I walk out the door to talk to my neighbor I have no idea where that conversation will lead. That’s what love does. It says that my neighbor is more important than my plans, whatever they are. Love steps into messy situations rather than stepping around or away from them. Out of our mutual messes and our willingness to participate in them relationships grow and community builds.
I’ll comment more on Bonhoeffer’s biography in another blog when I’ve finished the book. I’ve never read any of the books he wrote, but I plan on doing that now. I want to read what he says because he gave his life for his neighbors, the Jews of Germany. If only I can remember to not get so wrapped up in reading that I never step outside to interact with my neighbors.