German Philosopher, Schopenhauer once remarked that Christians are like a pack of porcupines on a freezing cold night. The freezing weather conditions force the porcupines together for warmth, but as they get closer to each other their quills begin to jab and wound each other. So they move away from each other, only to repeat the process over and over again.
I think this brilliantly describes the dilemma of Christian fellowship. True community is difficult – just when you feel it is all going well, then suddenly something bursts the bubble and people feel wounded. Over the years of ministry in various churches I have discovered that relationships within a community of faith are complex. In the very place where we should be showing love and care for each another, we often discover that this is not the case. (This extract was taken from my recent book Whatever it Takes)
If you belong to any community, religious or not, then you would have experienced something of this Porcupine effect. It seems to happen wherever people gather together. We need to be in community and so we are drawn together, but after a while we find other people irritating, frustrating and just 'different.' This leads us to pull away again. However, in the end we will find that we need human company again and so we will come back together.
If we are going to live together in community, then perhaps we need to listen to this advice:
"It requires less character to discover the faults of others than it does to tolerate them.’ – J. Petit-Senn
Living in Grace