Is a relationship wirh Jesus a private affair?

I sometimes wish that my love for Jesus could be a private affair. Often I would like to be a Christian who goes alone to some mountaintop and reads Scripture and other spiritual readings. In this secluded world, I could experience God in meditation on streams, clouds, and the stirs in my heart. Sounds idyllic.

The problem with Jesus is that He says that to love Him properly, I must also love others. Ah, there's the rub! As I seek communion with and love of God in personal study and meditation, I must come down from the mountaintop and love the repulsive woman who smells bad and talks too much. I must find God in the AIDS patient and even in the person who hates me. Impossible task? Certainly seems so.

To help me in this difficult task, Jesus formed a community of followers. Jesus' plan wasn't just that we make a personal commitment to Him - although this is necessary. Integral to our commitment to Jesus is a commitment to the Christian community.

It is important that we belong to a church because in the struggle with and support of fellow Christians we find Jesus. This community of fellow believers will help us to address the difficult task of loving others. These people will share our love for the Lord. They will understand our striving to live up to the challenge of Jesus by worshiping with us, laughing with us, crying with us and sometimes giving us a swift kick in the pants when we go haywire. This collection of people is a gift from God.

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