When I was nine I had my own personal bully: Willy Parsells. When he saw me on his turf, Willy would hit me, knock me down and make life miserable. When I came home crying one day with new pants ripped, my dad, who was pretty smart, called my brother Bill over. “Son, would you walk to school with your brother every day, and if this kid tries anything, will you help Wade teach him a lesson? My brother agreed and we shook hands on it.
Another smart guy, Solomon, wrote, ”By yourself you’re vulnerable, but with a friend you can face the worst. If you can round up a third, even better, A three-stranded cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
One day, on my way home from school, my bully came at me with violence in his eyes, but I wasn’t afraid. I had my brother at my side. In no time we had him on the ground crying. What’s crazy about this story is, a few months later, Willy tried it again. Our pal Jimmy happened to be with us and the three of us taught him crime doesn’t pay. I seem to remember a bloody nose. We never heard of Willy bullying anyone after that.
Two by Two beats One by One: God did a smart thing giving Eve to Adam as a helpmate. Old Noah led the animals into the ark by two-sies. Joshua had Caleb, Orville depended on Wilbur and even Holmes needed Watson. Jesus did the wise thing when he sent his disciples out in pairs. John and Peter were a dynamic duo and how about Paul? He always traveled with a partner. When he was beaten and thrown in jail, thank God faithful Silas was right there by his side. What if he had been alone? Would things have had such a great outcome if they didn’t have that partnership—praying, singing psalms and encouraging one another?
It’s Lonely at the Top, but only when you’re alone. I have found there is great power in two, especially in prayer. You go into your prayer closet alone and God will surely be there with you. But Jesus promised his special presence and power…“when two of you are in harmony (Gr: symphanos) on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you; for where two or three gather in my name, I am present among them.” (Matthew 18:19, 20). When we unite with others, his presence and our prayers are even stronger.
Unity means power; disunity means eventual failure, which is why Lincoln dedicated himself to preserving the union at all costs. What a tragedy it would have been if what God had joined together in 1776 disintegrated in 1861!
Living Proof: I’ve have had the privilege of planting two churches. The first was with a Taiwanese pastor. Together we prayed for God to do something for months. Finally, in a single evening, God used us to form a congregation of brand new believers in Taipei. A dozen years later a Gypsy convert asked me to help him reach his people with the gospel. We were in unity and prayed for months. Within a year we baptized hundreds of Gypsies and there are now Gypsy congregations in most major U.S. cities from that church.
Jesus’ remarkable predictions. He lived in an obscure corner of a great empire, yet seeing into the future, he said, “this gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” Jesus reached his thousands, but he predicted his team of trained leaders would do far greater things than he. (John 14:12). At the time it seemed impossible. But these humble, rather timid men and women, equipped with the power of God’s Spirit and united in love, did just that. At Pentecost, his little band of believers, filled with His Spirit and “in one accord” grew into a mega church of 3, 120 in a single day. In the weeks following they kept faithful to Christ’s command to love one another and God kept honoring their obedience by adding to their numbers exponentially. Today his followers are in every nation and number in the millions.
So, if you want to do great things, put aside your rugged individualism. Find at least one other person of like mind and if you can find more even better.
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