By Matt Hein
Once upon a time I was quite adventurous, even daring! Mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, and wilderness backpacking filled my free moments for a number of years and I couldn’t get enough.
One particular adventure took me into the high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. I had hiked these mountains before but this was a new experience since it was in the heart of winter. It was cold and the snow was deep when my friend and I set off for two days of hiking.
I’m thankful I did not go into those mountains alone. My friend and I had hiked together several times before this trip and we trusted each other as hiking partners. The journey in was beautiful. We set up camp in a great location, enjoyed the wonder of winter in the mountains, and then experienced something really dangerous.
On our second day we arrived back at camp hot and sweaty from a challenging hike up one of the high peaks. My friend took off his winter jacket and several under layers in order to cool down. He left his layers off a little too long and his body temperature dropped rapidly.
During the night I woke to hear his teeth chattering as he tried to sleep. He was in the beginning stages of hyperthermia. We were miles away from our car with a tough hike out by snowshoe in between. When morning came, my friend could barely get out of his sleeping bag.
In that moment I learned the importance of having a partner while hiking. I put most of his gear on my back, held his arm from time to time, and kept on talking to him. I painted a picture of what was coming next on the trail and how long it would be until we were back to the car.
The hike out was tense and I was worried about my friend. We finally made it back to the car and he warmed up and returned to normal. And yet, had my friend been out there by himself, I’m not sure he would have made it back.
Sometimes the journey is too much to make on your own and you need a hiking partner who can see the road ahead when you cannot. Sometimes you need a partner who can encourage you with hope when you think you cannot take another step forward.
I’ve found the same to be true of being in Christian discipling relationships. When the writer of Ecclesiastes says that two are better than one he is speaking of much more than mere human relationships. Jesus Christ creates Christian community. It is His gracious gift to us. He places us in relationship with each other so that when one falls down spiritually, emotionally, and physically another can help him up.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the following about Christian community in Life Together:
“Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure. And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.” (23)
Once upon a time in the middle of winter on a trail in the Adirondack Mountains the good news that our warm car was not far ahead became stronger than the weakness of my hiking partner. I spoke a message of hope into a really bad situation and it spurred him forward when he couldn’t keep going on his own.
Disciples of Jesus journey together with a far greater message of salvation and grace that comes only through Jesus Christ. I need His hope-filled, life-giving Good News from you; and you need it from me.
The writer of Ecclesiastes was right. Two are better than one. When one falls there is another to pick him up. When I need the Good News that comes only through Jesus, He is faithful to give it to me in His Word, often through another disciple who is journeying with me. We need Jesus’ Good News and we need it from each other!
This fall, as part of St. Luke’s focus on trusted relationships, we’ll be encouraging everyone to participate in a Taking Worship Home group. These discipleship groups will meet in homes, work places, etc. for the purpose of building discipling relationships and exploring themes from worship.
We also want you to be part of our Sunday morning Bible class, where we will organize our large group study around table groups. If you are interested in hosting a Taking Worship Home group, or would like to host a table in our Sunday morning Bible class, please click HERE.
We need you to help create a discipling culture where everyone has someone on their rope!