February 10, 2009

Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:
5. the ministry of bearing

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Thus the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining…
The Christian must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. It is, first of all, the freedom of the other person that is a burden to the Christian. The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us.
Then, there is the abuse of that freedom that becomes a burden for the Christian. In sin, fellowship with God and with his brother are broken. To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have to give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness…
The service of forgiveness is rendered by one to the others daily. It occurs, without words, in the intercessions for one another. He who is bearing others knows that he himself is being borne.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together