Our own EPIC story
Like in Lord of the Rings, each of the companions have different strengths. Frodo is humble. Sam is a loyal and brave protector of Frodo and a great encourager. Aragorn is a strong leader and experienced fighter. Legolas can sense danger and trouble from afar. Gimli is fearless in spite of his physical shortcomings. And Gandalf is a wise and powerful wizard. All are very different, but all become essential to the awe-inspiring cause to save middle earth.
The message from scripture about our Great War is the same. In this Great War, there will be no “Lone Rangers.” (Heck, even the “Lone Ranger” in this American Old West classic story, needed his Indian friend Tonto!). God is looking for the men who realize that in this War we will not go far without surrounding ourselves with other real and authentic Jonathan/David friendships. The prayer of Jesus to his Father God just before His crusade to the cross shows the critical importance of banding together: Jesus said, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one.” (John 17:21)
The power of Christ has been bestowed on the full body of believers. We were never designed to fight this War alone. We need each other! The great causes for Christ will be accomplished by banding together.
We are not alone. Satan wants us to believe that we are alone in our foxholes, and that our struggles and addictions are unique and isolated to us. Evil wants us to think that if we were open and honest about our battles, that no one could ever truly understand or, better yet – love us. That is a lie! Our internal and hidden battles and our feelings of loneliness are common to all. And when our sins and dark places are exposed to the light by walking in authentic friendship and brotherhood with other true followers of Christ – we will experience love, power, and freedom.
Covering our Brothers’ backs. We need a few other men in our foxholes – a Band of Brothers – for whose lives and legacies we will fight, so that together we may be lights in a dark world. We need friendships where we will cover each others backs in the battles of life – and “share each others troubles and problems.” These are men for whom we covenant to fight for their true identities in Christ and to fight against their perverted and sinful natures. These friends encourage us and speak the truth about our rightful heritage as “brothers of Christ” when we get lies from the enemy about who we are. And they are there to remind us of the truth when our sinful natures are evident. They are men for whom God has given you a lens for who they are – filtered through the love of Christ.
Friendships without Judgement
“If another brother is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.” (Gal. 6:1) We are asked to love and fight for our brothers without judging them. When we confront another brother about his sin, we must ask ourselves, “What is our primary motivation – love or condemnation?” For scripture states that God alone, a being of perfect love, is the only righteous judge among us. Too often, we disciples try to elevate ourselves by believing the lie that our “lessor” or “different” sins make us more worthy than our brothers’ sins.
It is easy to make ourselves feel better when we may not struggle with a particular sin that gets more press. Do we somehow think we are more worthy of God’s grace when we may not have fallen to the sins of adultery, homosexuality, or abortion? This is a trap from the pit of hell, which will lead us to serving out of a spirit of pride rather than a spirit of humility. Judgement is the greatest weapon of the enemy. All sin separates us from God and from the call of our King. And God warns us that pride is the most destructive sin. Yet unconditional love for our brothers is the greatest weapon we can wield on behalf of our King. And it is the key to victory.
Love for a brother without condition or condemnation is how the Saints will be asked to “lay down their lives” in this War. And it will be the key to overcoming Evil’s dominion over this world. So we want to “encourage each other and build each other up,” for we are in this fight together. (1 Thes. 5:11) And we must allow our Band of Brothers to be there to challenge us, correct us with “humility and gentleness,” and to pick us up when we fall. For “wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” (Prov. 27:6)