Shadow Walking: Always Better Together
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:2-5
We have been studying ancient history this year in our homeschool using a curriculum called “Biblioplan“. In the section on Ancient Greece, we learned a fascinating fact about the Greek infantry. Here is an excerpt from the companion guide.
Hoplites were the heavily armed infantry citizen-soldiers of the Ancient Greek city-states. Hoplites were trained to fight in lines standing shoulder to shoulder in what was called a “hoplite phalanx”. Each man was protected by the shield of the man standing next to him. When the phalanx marched forward as a unit, enemy spears and arrows could not penetrate the shields. The phalanx was only effective if the entire unit moved together in step. If even one hoplite broke formation, the whole line could fall apart.
As I pondered this war strategy, I was struck by how similar this is to the body of Christ. We are meant to link arms with one another, to move forward together against the attack of the enemy. What a beautiful picture it is to consider a group of believers holding their shields in front one another, supporting, protecting, loving each other.
All too often, followers of Christ break formation. We consider that perhaps we will be stronger on our own. It will be less painful if we set our own course. Walking together is too vulnerable- it opens us up to hurts and pain, leaving wounds that threaten to destroy us.
But all too soon, we discover the heartbreak of not walking with other believers. Our shields of faith become flimsy and we begin to question everything that we believe in. We fall down and there is no one there to catch us. We grow tired and lack purpose and it is easier to just give up.
It says in 1 Peter 5:8 that “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” When we go it alone, we are easy targets. The Ancient Greeks understood this. There is strength in numbers.
In order to be effective as a body of believers, we need to have humility that allows us to consider others as better than ourselves. We need to look to the interests of others and seek to support and love one another, understanding the beauty of God’s purpose in this type of relationship. When we are genuinely looking to the interests of others, linking arms, holding our shields in front of our neighbor, we will find that others will link arms with us and their shields will firmly protect us.
The opposite is true. When we are only concerned for ourselves and our own protection and security (pride!), we will find that we are weak and inadequate against the attacks of the enemy.
As hard and as painful as it can be at times, I want to be united with other believers. I want to link arms and hold my shield securely in front of my neighbor. It’s always better when we’re together!