Organic Community

Eberhard attended a board meeting of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation at the end of January 1921. These are excerpts from his report published in Das Neue Werk in 1921.

The coming fire of God, which will take hold of the whole of humankind and transform it, is the future kingdom of God and the appearance of the coming Christ. The little spark glowing in the dark that comes from that same fire is the church of Christ, which today radiates the same nature as the historic Jesus and the Jesus of the second coming. For the church is his body – the incarnation of Christ on this earth. The church shares in the suffering of the despised Christ, but at the same time stands in the life power of the risen Christ. Here is the same power of God, the same character of God as in the Jesus of the gospels and in the coming order of justice and love.

For God is just as strong in the infinitely small as in the infinitely great. So here and now the question is if there are people who grasp and live out their fellowship with God as service to their fellow human beings. The question is if there are Christians who feel the immense task laid upon them, that everything must be reconciled which today is unreconciled. Where this conviction has taken hold of life, one can no longer hold on to any privilege of property or any use of force, for one is aware every moment that thousands upon thousands are struggling for what you hold in your hands. They are standing before your door waiting to see whether it is possible for you to worship God without remembering what they expect of you, which they will accuse you of before God until you grant it to them.

It must therefore come about in the final work of a fellowship of reconciliation in all countries that this practical demand of building up a nonviolent and property-less community of life is sought for and testified to, with an open door for all.

I would consider it insufficient and not in accordance with the inner demands of conscience if now the next tasks would be to plan the gathering of the various peace and reconciliation groups and, in closed committee meetings, to carefully organize and define this grouping. On the contrary: the essential thing today is something much stronger. It is something organic; it is the only organic thing. It is life itself: it is the life of God in binding love in its constructive work of community.

Practically speaking, it will be decisive that we have open ears and open hearts to perceive wherever there is a hidden glimmer of God’s conscience for the divine new order; wherever a hidden germ of life is growing, which bears within it the abundance of God’s love and God’s community. We want to put ourselves decisively at the service of this budding life. We are looking for working communities of all kinds in which social distinction and the privileges of possessions are overcome through brotherly equality and freedom. So we are looking for educational communities that, without coercion or violation, awaken the inner life and the inmost vocation and destiny of each individual for community and for service to all of humanity, in both old and young. It may take the form of spiritual work in communal hiking and proclamation, or the communal publication of books and articles containing this message; it may be more pronounced in work of the hands on the fields and in the garden, or the saw of the carpenter and the trowel of the bricklayer. The essential thing is that true love can only be seen where communal, productive, hard work is done and where the binding spirit overcomes all barriers and differences and, most of all overcomes every form of spiritual coercion. It is absolutely clear to us that a community of work is not the actual goal or an end in itself. Rather, in such a community the same questions arise as in the lives of individuals in their vocations. In such a communal life it is a question of the same battles to be fought daily, the same liberation from the self or collective egoism, the same dedication to the whole and the coming kingdom of God as for all other people, including all other Christians.

  Article edited for length and clarity. View original document in our digital archive: Reconciliation Work