That you may walk worthy of teh Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God... Colossians 1:10
In the past year I have undertaken to learn to play the bagpipes. It is not a terribly common instrument, however there are many resources available on the internet as well as in print for private study. With books, CD's and videos I labored greatly, trying to work my own way through this musical artform. Once I had felt that I had acheived some level of proficiency I set out to join a Bagpipe band here in town. I auditioned with the pipe major who graciously noted that I must have been self taught. As it turns out I had learned many of my most basic movements incorrectly and, while they sounded fine to me, they would not do for playing with the band. So my instruction began again, this time with a teacher and I am now progressing towards being able to play suitably as a member of the band. There is a paralell in our spiritual life. We may be tempted to be "self-study" Christians. Turning over whatever leaves of knowledge that we can draw together with our experience and understanding, however, nothing can replace the corporate need of our faith. It can be uncomfortable to be in a body. It necessarily means being hurt and making mistakes. Yet this is how we are meant to grow: together. We can try to keep our old ideas and habits, but they will clash with what The Lord is doing in the body and in this way The Lord will change us, grow us, draw us to maturity. It is a slow process, and a thorough one. This is because He who calls us to salvation in Jesus Christ is not calling us to superficial change, but total and complete transformation. We will struggle at times, at times we will be frustrated, but the worst thing that we can do is take ourselves "out of the band."