Writing is a solitary occupation, with hours of ruminating and writing dreadful first drafts. When something finally emerges, we spend hours editing until we think we have something to share. But is it worth sharing? We can trust our own judgment and send it off to an editor or post it online, and find out the hard way. Or we can share it with fellow scribblers who find those bloopers we missed before we send our darlings into the world.
What Does that Have to do with Church?
Someone asked me why I valued critique groups. As Christ warned us, we can notice the spec in another’s eye easier than the plank in our own. I’m far more objective reading another writer’s work. Split infinitives, confusing sentences, clauses that modify the wrong word, contradictions, you name it, jump out at me. Having learned to hunt for those sins in other’s works, I more easily discover them in mine. When I receive critiques of my work, I wonder how I could have missed all those planks. There is not a writer alive, no matter how famous, who does not benefit from good critiques. Just as I need to share my writing journey with fellow writers, if I am to grow as a writer, I need my fellow Christians just as much for my spiritual journey.
Someone described faith as a bed of red hot coals. The heat burrows deeply in them as they are piled atop one another. But remove one of those hot coals, set it aside, and it soon turns cold. Like hot coals, we need each other to keep our faith burning.
We’re all on a journey
I don’t go to church because I think I’m “good,” but because those planks in my eyes keep me from seeing that I’m a sinner and need help. I need my Pastor’s “critiques” (sermons), unity in prayer, Sacrament, and fellowship to grow spiritually.
People say, “I don’t have to go to church to pray. I can pray anytime on my own, anywhere.” But do we really? How often in a busy day do we stop and pray, stop and spend significant time in God’s presence? If we’re not careful, we may attempt to conquer the day’s challenges unarmed, without starting our mornings with God’s Word and love. Talk about sitting ducks!
Still, while I value solitary prayer time, I need to worship with others to grow spiritually. There’s no substitute for the grace God pours down on me through Word and Sacrament as I gather with others in church. Somehow, joining in hymns and prayers raises worship to a higher, collective level. Like a family reunion—it’s great to spend time with my favorite cousin, but it’s a thrill when the entire clan gathers together.
Whether as a writer with my critique partners, or a member of my church, there’s only so much I can accomplish on my own.