Another lesson from Screwtape, that articulate devil so bent on tutoring his nephew Wormwood:
…the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires.¹
Of course, it’s often easier – though not guaranteed – to be united with people we like and prefer to be around. We tend to naturally gravitate in that direction anyway. It’s much harder to become one with a diverse group of people who reside in different neighborhoods and who have had different life experiences. But that is the beauty of worshiping and serving together in a community of saints. As Terryl and Fiona Givens write:
…our present relationships are both the laboratory in which we labor to perfect ourselves and the source of that enjoyment that will constitute our true heaven.
What we call the virtues are precisely those attributes of character that best suit us to live harmoniously, even joyfully, in society. Kindness only exists when there is someone to whom we show kindness. Patience is only manifest when another calls it forth. So it is with mercy, generosity, and self-control. What we may have thought was our private pathway to salvation, was intended all along as a collaborative enterprise, though we often miss the point. The confusion is understandable, since our current generation’s preference for “spirituality” over “religion” is often a sleight of hand that confuses true discipleship with self-absorption.²
¹Lewis C.S. The Screwtape Letters. The Macmillan Company. (1959). p. 72-73.
²Givens T. & Givens F. The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Ensign Peak. (2012). p. 112-3.