Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Suggestion: Life Within the Christian Community

Over the past few days I have been looking for a book to suggest to our Bible Study group that deals with the topic of community or getting along within the body of Christ.  As I searched my own bookshelves, various Christian websites, blogs that I follow, and online bookstores I found many titles that address the topic of the church's role in society.  The main thrust of these books seems to be how the church community ought to respond to and impact the surrounding culture.  Many of these books address the church's responsibility to the weak, the poor, and the outcasts of our communities.  Well, that's not exactly what I am looking for at this point.  Rather, I am seeking a book that looks inward first.  How are we to interact with one another within the church?

Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs forYesterday evening my lovely wife was helping me look for titles and she found a book on my shelf that I received some time back from IVP as a review copy.  It is Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For by Gerald Sittser (2nd ed., IVP, 2008). I did not have the time to read and review this book although I remember that I did read the first few pages and skim through the Table of Contents.  In Love One Another, Sittser discusses the Christian community's "one-another" ministry.  As children of God we are commanded to love on another, forgive one another, bear with one another, encourage one another, comfort one another, and much more. These are the topics Sittser explores in this engaging and easy to comprehend book.  He also includes a discussion guide which makes this immediately useful for a small-group study.  Here is the Table of Contents:

Preface to the New Edition
1. The New Commandment
2. Welcome One Another
3. Be Subject to One Another
4. Forbear One Another
5. Forgive One Another
6. Confess Sin to and Pray for One Another
7. Serve One Another
8. Encourage One Another
9. Comfort One Another
10. Bear One Another’s Burdens
11. Stir Up One Another
12. Admonish One Another
Discussion Guide

Here's an excerpt, and here's a link to the endorsements.  Check it out. 

I just read through the first chapter and it is excellent!  Sittser even cites Bonhoeffer's Life Together a couple of times to support his argument for the centrality of Christ in Christian community. Bonhoeffer tackles the topic well, but I do have my reservations about some of his theology.  I'm disappointed that I could not find a review of Sittser's book on the internet.  Maybe this will be a start and I'll report back with more after I've read further.