Spirituality & Community

Like Frodo Baggins, the unlikely hero in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, every disciple of Jesus has been given a great mission to accomplish.  And like Frodo, it doesn't take long to discover that we are going to need a lot of help along the way!
 
Thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to follow him on our own.  He graciously provides us with a fellowship of faithful traveling companions to encourage us on our journey and remind us of our mission when we are tempted to give up hope.  This may help to explain why the New Testament is riddled with so many "one another" passages (e.g., love one another, forgive one another, bear with one another, etc.).
 
There are a wide variety of spiritual disciplines and devotional practices that have been utilized by Christians over the centuries in the process of spiritual formation and discipleship.  But the one thing that all disciples of Jesus have in common is a shared participation in the body of Christ, the fellowship of believers, the holy catholic (universal) Church.
 
Regardless of our level of comfort with or commitment to this new community of faith, we are an essential and inseparable part of it nonetheless (cf. 1 Co 12:12-27).  As Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, once said, "He cannot have God for his father who does not have the church for his mother."  The Church is the "holy hothouse" in which God has chosen to grow faithful, fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ.
 
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer testified, while leading an underground seminary during World War II in Nazi Germany, "Let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God's grace from the bottom of his heart.  Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren."
 
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