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Spiritual Partnerships

quest-7-1When I was twelve years old I went to camp for the first time. One of the highlights of camp for any twelve-year-old boy was swimming in the lake on a hot summer day. But the oversight of a couple hundred high-energy boys is a huge responsibility for the camp staff! They knew there were too many boys and too few staff to provide a safe swimming environment.

So, to make swimming safer they established the “buddy-system”. We were not allowed in the water without our buddy. And when the whistle blew we grabbed each other’s hand and raised our hands high to show that we had our buddy and that everyone was safe and accounted for.

Now one might argue, “That’s a great system for children, but it doesn’t work for adults in a world far more complex than a camp.” But look at what Paul writes to the church in Philippi, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27 ESV)

According to that passage and many others like it, living a life of following Christ means camaraderie or spiritual partnership. Note the “team-words” Paul uses in that text. First, all the pronouns (you) are plural. Also, together, we are to “stand firm in one spirit.” And finally, “with one mind we are to strive side by side for the faith of the gospel.” That word strive is actually a sports term from which we derive our words gymnastics and gymnasium.

A number of years ago my wife and I visited the ancient ruins of Philippi. If you remember the account in Acts 16, Philippi is where Paul and Silas were publicly ridiculed, stripped and beaten (flogged). Then they were thrown into prison, placed in the inner cell with their feet in the stocks. We saw the solid rock prison cells, measuring only about four feet, by four feet, by four feet into which Paul and Silas were crammed.

In the midst of their suffering and pain, Paul and Silas prayed together and mustered the courage and strength to sing hymns together. I cannot make the claim that either of these two brave Christ-followers would not have prayed or sung hymns without the company and encouragement of the other. But the fact remains that together they prayed and sang in the face of severe persecution.

Who are you standing with? Who is standing with you? Who’s your buddy? Following Christ is not a solo endeavor. If you are not spiritually partnered with someone else, I strongly urge you to either find a spiritual partner or upgrade one of your current friendships to that of a spiritual partnership!

©2009 Rob Fischer

4 comments

1 Brian CooperSmith { 08.04.09 at 4:16 pm }

I can’t imagen being Paul that was beaten and stripped of the clothing, but that I think does show first off the partener ship that the two of them must have had to have to get through the wrose of it all, and also the Faith in Christ Jesus, I wish I could have Faith like that. Not saying that I dont have Faith but just not like they had that day.

2 Brian CooperSmith { 08.04.09 at 4:17 pm }

I think those two had to have alot of Faith in themselves and more importantly in God, how else would they have surrvied they wouldnt have with out there Faith in Christ. No one can servie with out the Faith of Christ.

3 Alyssa Borgerson { 10.21.09 at 7:04 pm }

I have been in need of a spiritual partner for some time and am trying to discern if any of my current friendships should be upgraded to such a relationship. Please pray that I will find just the right person that God wants me to partner with.

4 Rob { 10.22.09 at 3:22 am }

Alyssa, I pray with you that God will lead you. Then, step out and ask the one whom he leads you to. Explain to your friend what spiritual partnership is and ask her if she would partner with you. God will bless!