(A talk presented to my Keryx Brothers in 2016)
Since my Keryx weekend in 2014, in addition to my faithful attendance at church and the weekly Keryx grouping I have read and studied about what it means to live in Christian community. So as my time draws near for me to go home I believe it was by divine appointment that I’ve been asked to present this talk summary and what it means to me.
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Life Together” had a lot to say about how we should live together in Christian community. I would like to bring out a few points from the book that are especially true for us here in prison and how it relates to Keryx.
First, “we should not take for granted the privilege we have of openly living among other Christians. Visible fellowship is a blessing that not all of our Brothers and Sisters around the world get to enjoy. The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” When we come together on Sunday nights for Keryx how many times have you been uplifted by the worship music, a testimony, or simply the enthusiastic greeting of a Brother? I know I have.
Secondly, “we need to recognize that as Christians we need other Christians in our lives to speak God’s Word into us.” We need our Brothers when we become uncertain and discouraged to speak God’s Word into us to provide certainty and courage. In our Keryx small groupings as we share our Christian walk together we have the opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. To encourage others and be encouraged ourselves.
Third, we realize that “in a Christian community each individual is an indispensable link in the chain. Not only do the weak need the strong, but also the strong can not exist without the weak. As a body we are only as strong as our weakest members. Therefore we must do all that we can to strengthen all our members.” Keryx creates a unique opportunity for us to get to know one another for who we are in Christ and how we can best serve each other in brotherly love.
Fourth, Christian community requires forgiveness. “We must forgive each other on a daily basis and it occurs without words as we pray in intercession for one another.” C.S. Lewis once said that “to believe in the forgiveness of sin is not so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that very easily slips away if we don’t keep polishing up on it.” We close every Keryx meeting with the Lord’s Prayer, reciting the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Reminding us forgiveness is not a natural action but the key to working out our salvation.
Fifth, in the Christian community, “thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little recieves the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?”
“If we do not give thanks daily for Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measures and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” Like many of you I’ve been tempted to quit Keryx, but I stuck it out, got involved and worked to make our community a better place. I thank God daily for what we’ve got, confident that the best is yet to come.
And finally, “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Chreator, as mortals, with the Immortal, as redeemed sinners with the sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always be the overwhelming dominate factor in the life we are to live in the body.”
Romans 12:12-14 says, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts: and though all its part are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one spirit into one body, and were given the one Spirit to drink.”
Keryx provides us with a unique opportunity to live life in Christian community. To be the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to one another and witnessing to the lost and wounded souls on this compound. Individually our lights may not seem like much shinning into the darkness that surrounds us, however, when we come together we are like a city on a hill that can not and will not be hidden.