Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alone or together?

"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community...let him who is not in community beware of being alone." -Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p.77

I find this to be an interesting pair of statements because we often group people into introverts and extroverts by saying that there are those who like to be around people more, and those who prefer alone time (this is actually not the correct definition, but is commonly believed). They are naturally happy and thrive when in their preferred social zones.

So it is interesting to think that a person who prefers being with people would actually be a hindrance to the community, or that a person who loves solitude would actually be harmed by it.

But I think that Bonhoeffer was not talking about personality here. read more/-

He continues,

"...only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship." (77)

"One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair." (78)

My thoughts:

Fellowship fruitless without solitude
-One part of this (and one that Bonhoeffer emphasizes) is that our fellowship will be richer when we have spent time alone with God.
-Another part is that God sometimes wants us to be alone for a time so that we may receive a certain lesson before going back to fellowship. He wants us to be isolated for a reason.

Solitude fruitless without fellowship
-If we run to solitude out of anger, disillusionment, fear, etc, we are only running away from the problem. A problem with our brother is a problem that we solve together, not sitting at home in our prayer closet..we have to come out.
-We may find it hard to enter back into fellowship if we stay away too long.
-Being in the fellowship gives us nourishment for when we are to be alone.
-What else could Bonhoeffer mean by this?


  1. Thought provoking. I love Bonhoeffer. I want to read his book The Cost of Discipleship. I know that will majorly challenge and convict me!

    Your comment on the Single-Minded theme was posted on YLCF today, and I was really blessed and challenged by what you said.


  2. Thanks, Abbie! I have come across your blog too via YLCF.

    I'm often challenged by Bonhoeffer's writing. I like both "Life Together" and "The Cost of Discipleship." Even if I don't agree with every word, he asks all the right questions that make me reevaluate my walk with God and relationships with others.


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