Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Discipline of Fellowship

I’ve known many people who have been disillusioned with the church. Some of them have left their congregations in bitter disappointment, never to worship anywhere ever again.

Perhaps they were genuinely hurt, but they were wrong to leave church.

Consider the thought that the benefits for fellowship might include the conflicts we have with each other. It is an exercise in discipline, requiring us to forgive, be patient, communicate better, become humbler, and let go of anger. In short, fellowship demands us to grow.

I’ll grant that it is much more peaceful to be by yourself on the lake as you watch nature unfold in the early morning. We certainly need some quiet time. But that’s not where growth in spirit and character comes from.

Our relationships are where we get the rough edges smoothed out. It’s not particularly easy, but it’s good.

We grow as we develop the humility to be gentle when we’d rather fight. Fellowship demands that we learn self control. The touchy people in our lives inspire us to find just the right words (they’re like apples of gold, the Bible says). Perhaps only in church, where we work for more than just ourselves, do we find true spiritual discipline.

I’m sure someone is wondering at this point if I am thinking of a specific conflict we are having right now in this church. The answer is no—in fact, I’ve waited to write this when things are relatively rather smooth.

But they won’t stay that way because God’s people have to work hard to work together.

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