Jon Walker in his book, In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work:  Life Together writes in chapter 29 about the “Ministry of Confession and Communion.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote…

The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! 

Walker writes that The Big Idea of the chapter is…

We must allow one another the freedom to be sinners, rather than hiding behind asks of piety. In Christian community we are free to be honest about our faults and this openness allows us to help one another to make the right choices. Otherwise, we leave another alone in our sins, creating a fellowship of shadows where we never really see each other as flawed people who need Jesus but also for who we are becoming in Christ.

Walker added:

…confession is foundational to our fellowship with each other.

…Bonhoeffer says, when we hide our sins  from one another, we are left alone in our sin. And, “He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.”

…And so we wear masks and hide our sins from one another, and that actually undermines the intimacy of our fellowship and that leaves us still wounded in the dark. It is any wonder that so many Christian fellowships remain shallow, never developing the deep commitments that are a necessary part of authentic, intimate, and transparent Christian community?

…Because of Jesus, we are free to be who God created us to be and we are free to be who we are in Christian community. And that frees us our fellowship to help the sinner–and that is each one of us–grow into the fellowship of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

…To be like Jesus…our love for one another should create a safe place, where “we refuse to wear masks and play games…” 

(Jon WalkerIn Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s Classic Work: Life Together, Chapter 29)

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