Life Together Study Questions | Discussion Week 3
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Discussion Week 3
Chapter 3: The Day Alone
BACKGROUND to Life Together
Refer to Discussion Week 1 for background. All quotations taken from: Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community. New York: Harper and Row, 1954. Reprint 2009.
Icebreaker question: Typically, being an extrovert means that you gain energy from being with others and lose energy being by yourself, whereas being an introvert means that you gain energy from being by yourself and lose energy from being with others. (It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you like being with people or not.) Are you an extrovert or an introvert? What are some of the clearest examples in your life of your extroversion/introversion?
1. Discuss the following:
“Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone. Because they cannot stand loneliness, they are driven to seek the company of other people. There are Christians, too, who cannot endure being alone, who have had some bad experiences with themselves, who hope they will gain some help in association with others. They are generally disappointed. Then they blame the fellowship for what is really their own fault. The Christian community is not a spiritual sanatorium [i.e., hospital]” (76).
2. Discuss the following:
“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. …. But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone” (77, emphasis original). How does our time alone with Christ affect others in Christ’s community? How does our time with others in Christ’s community affect our time alone with Christ?
3. Why, for many, is solitude and silence so difficult? Be personal and specific.
4. Biblically, what would you say is the purpose of silence?
5. What is the difference between reading God’s word and meditating on God’s word? Would one be preferred over the other?
ASIDE: Prior to the mid-1400s, copies of the scriptures were not widely available to the average Christian. The scriptures were mostly in the form of scrolls or codices (i.e., hand-written manuscripts in book form), and were largely not in the common spoken languages. Upon the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439, scripture began to be available to the average person. The Protestant Reformation capitalized upon this with many Reformers translating the scriptures into native tongues, and for the first time in history common Christians had access to the scriptures in their own homes.
Take prayer requests and pray. Close prayer by singing the Doxology together:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.