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The truth is that we shall only understand the balance of severity and confidence, of the strenuous and the relaxed, in the context of the common life.

Every believer must have an urgent concern for the relation of the neighbour to Christ, a desire and willingness to be the means by which Christ’s relation with the neighbour becomes actual and transforming. But that urgent concern arises from the sense in myself of the cost and grief involved in separation from life in God, the self- awareness of frailties and failures that I cannot overcome for and by myself. I have, by God’s grace, learned as a member of the Christian community what is the nature of God’s mercy, which does not leave me to overcome my sin by my own effort; so I have something to say to the fellow-sufferer who does not know where to look for hope.

And what I have to say depends utterly on my willingness not to let go of that awareness of myself that reminds me where I start each day – not as a finished saint but as a needy person still struggling to grow.

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