It’s often hard to do things we don’t want to do without motivation or accountability. Always going it alone without support and encouragement means all the motivation has to come from the inside. It also means there is no one around to keep us accountable. When I can’t keep up with my grandchildren, it’s usually because I’ve been allowing myself extra slices of pizza and chocolate cake. If I’m alone and feel a bad attitude coming on, I only affect myself. On the other hand, it will catch on like a virus and will have to be addressed as soon as I connect with other people.
Jesus knew the value of the buddy system. Throughout his ministry, he taught the foundational truths of spending time with God and embracing other people. He built his church on a core group of followers, many of whom were his friends and loved ones who knew him well. As he walked, worked, and ate with them, he instilled in them the importance of living in community.
We all know what it’s like to begin something new, or even to make just a few changes in our lives, without encouragement. It’s hard. Sometimes we need the feedback and support of other people to give us the confidence and motivation to keep going. A member of our staff recently ran a 100-mile marathon in the high country here in Colorado. The run lasted all day and through the night. Around midnight, a friend and fellow runner who is also on staff joined him for a couple of hours to encourage him and help him finish the race (which he did). Now that’s a buddy!
The apostle Paul spoke of this in his letter to the Romans. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:1-2, ESV). In other words, “Build each other up! Reach out, both to help and to be helped.”
There is solace and strength in community. We are healthier in every way when we know we are not alone.