utterly alone

October 11, 2004 | 3 Comments

In reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, I ran across a pretty remarkable quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer I thought was worth passing along:

He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their 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!

  • what a quote …

  • Brewster

    This quote actually goes along with something I was discussing with someone today.
    Its has to do with 1 John 1:7 (“if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”)

    Maybe this thought is new only to me, but I have always read that and equated walking “in the light” with some idea similar to walking “in a holy way” or walking “like Jesus would”, or walking “without sin” or something like that. But in context it seems that walking “in the light” would better be understood as walking with an open life, being open about our sins and shortcomings with those in your community. Being real…honest…truly letting the light expose us and sharing our sin with others. Then you do truly have fellowship with others, and Jesus blood covers you. Also verse 8 makes more sense when it basically says: “and if you think you don’t have any sin, you are decieved.”

    I have NEVER seen that passage that way before. It was like an “aha” moment. I hope its not heresy (ha!). For some reason my Christian cliche mind just auto-translates “walking in the light” as being perfect or something.

    It really lines up with what Manning says about not being alone in your sin. You have to walk in the light and let other people see yourself to have true community. It kinda goes against the “need to appear perfect” philosophy that is seemingly prevalent in many churches.

  • Bruiser,
    I think that is a brilliant insight. I don’t think I’ve ever read that passage that way before either, but I completely agree.