Battles are so daily, aren’t they? Battles for health. Battles for our families. For our faith. Battles for others’ souls. For our mental health. Our finances. Our longings! We’re often bombarded with distractions and opposition to our needs and longings day in and day out. Some days, the battles leave us wringing out the emotional sweat of our souls. And we flop into bed at the end of the day thinking, “How am I going to get through another battle tomorrow?”
The ancient Greek warriors were no strangers to fierce battles. Think: Sparticus and Leonides! Masters of sword, spear, and shield, Spartan warriors were terrifying in battle. One of the most powerful defensive weapons the Spartan warriors utilized—aside from their bronze armor—was their commitment to one another. Spartan warriors were often described as having massive scars on their fronts, but little to no scarring on their backs. In part, because they never retreated! But more so because they regularly fought back-to-back and so protected the vulnerability of their fellow warrior against unseen attacks. They trusted one another—literally—with their lives.
God has designed a place of back-to-back, safety and trust for us—within the context of loving and authentic Christian community. A place where we do not battle alone. Where we offer reciprocity of trust and commitment in our vulnerability. And a place where our iron is sharpened by those in the community (Proverbs 27:17). Authentic community is not a place of kumbaya-good-feels, but a place of fierce and protective belonging.
We are strengthened in our vulnerability because we have others in community to lift us when we fall, to share our labors, and to help us withstand the opposition of the enemy.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—
a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
–Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)
ACTION: Where are your battle scars? Are they mostly on the front, or do you have some “stabs in the back?” Can you name the people in your life with whom you confidently labor back-to-back—who strengthen you with their commitment and trustworthiness? Offer a prayer of gratitude for them today as you name them, one by one.