This train of thought began with a statement I made recently while teaching a class at church about church. In talking about what it means to live with a faith community I said: "I know this might sound strange to some of you, but I go to church to intentionally be around people who irritate me."
A few weeks later I was visiting with friends at our church retreat. Our conversation turned to the difficult discipline of church. During that conversation I said: "Church is a form of self-mortification, like fasting. A big part of church is learning to say No to yourself."