Wilbourne believes that our goal should be communion with God. What struck me in this final chapter is that communion with God means communion with everyone else who is in communion with God. In practical terms this doesn’t mean that I have an intimate relationship with every follow of Jesus on the planet. It does mean that Christian community is not an option.
One of the points of Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together makes is that community is a reality. The question is whether we are going to live in that reality or try to deny it. This is challenging because while God is perfect I am not, and neither are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I get the sense from all the one another’s in the Bible that this is intentional on God’s part. My communion with him is directly connected to my communion with fellow believers. The deeper my relationships are with fellow believers, the deeper my relationship with God grows.
This is not an either/or situation. To be united with Christ is to be united with his body, the church. This is probably what makes church so frustrating much of the time. The only way imperfect people can grow close is through extravagant applications of love and grace. Love means that I am always striving to do what is best for others regardless of what it costs me. Grace means I’m willing to do this regardless of what they deserve.
I highly recommend Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne. I admit that I was hoping for something different at the end of the book. I wanted some new insight that would provide an easier way. Instead, I received clear confirmation that the way of Christ if full of suffering and discipline. I also was encouraged to realize it is all worth it. I pray that the joy of communion with God and my brothers and sisters will encourage others to want to experience the same thing.