Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely exclude me from his people."
And let not any eunuch complain, "I am only a dry tree."
For this is what the Lord says:
"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant -
to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant -
these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."
The Sovereign Lord declares - he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered."
I've been revisiting Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in preparation for a teaching I'll be leading on Christian community.
I was really encouraged to be reminded of Bonhoeffer's thoughts on community, particularly while navigating some issues with those I'm blessed to 'do life with.'
Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients.
We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace?
Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ?
Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together - the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.
But who am I, Lord, that I should presume to approach unto Thee?
Behold, the "heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" and Thou sayest, "Come unto me."
What does this most tender condescension and so loving and invitation mean? How shall I dare to come, who know not any good in myself, whereupon I may presume? How shall I bring Thee into my house, I who have so often offended Thy most gracious countenance?
Angels and archangels stand in awe of Thee, holy and righteous men fear Thee, and sayest Thou, "Come unto me"?
Unless Thou, O Lord, didst say this, who would believe it to be true?
And unless Thou didst command it, who could attempt to draw near?