Do I really need shoes at all? If I’m so determined to hike in flip flops, why not just trek in bare feet? Are any elements of protection necessary? Well, if you have feet you know even the heartiest skin cannot prevent jagged rocks from slicing through to the flesh below. A thick rubber sole provides a strong barrier to prevent injury.
Hiking boots as we wear them, provide a proper rubber barrier as well. They also have side walls, arch support, and stiffeners in the ankle. In life, this may look like a church with a women’s ministry program, a nursery, youth ministry, counseling, church picnics or maybe a Shepherds fund.
Church programs benefit everyone. I’m grateful for them and the opportunity to connect with people but, I also understand they are not essential to our journey of discipleship. We cannot however, trek without a proper “rubber sole.”
The rubber sole represents to me the loving community of loyal friends who hold me to living a life which resembles Jesus. In fact, Jesus taught large crowds but trained the disciples within the context of relationship. Therefore, in order to truly increase our knowledge of grace, deep soul work must take place within relationship.
We should expect a community of disciples, the church, to be characterized by these experiences:
- Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16): This will look like being a Godly example, offering a proper Biblical perspective, or sharing with one another the victory God has given you.
- Be family to one another (Ephesians 4:25): A family member will advocate by speaking well of one another when they lack the skill, ability, or willingness to do so for themselves. Even in the pit of sin an advocate will show you who God says you are.
- Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2): This will look like being a servant to one another. You offer assistance without complaining or expecting anything in return.
- Love one another (Romans 12:10): The greatest love ever observed occurred on the day Jesus died for your sin. We too should be willing to lay our life down for one another. This will look like interceding for the benefit of the one we love. We will lay aside our needs and our agenda to be their strength when they are weak.
Unfortunately, many in a metaphorical sense walk on the trail in hiking boots without rubber soles. Sounds weird, right? Imagine a hiking boot with side walls and ankle support but no sole. They try to “hike” alone and rarely discover the joy and blessing of being in authentic community. Does this sound like you?
Jesus masterfully modeled authentic community with the twelve He discipled. In relationship, He was their greatest advocate (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus interceded on their behalf (Hebrews 7:25). He feed them with the Word (John 12:49). He was a servant to them by washing their feet (John 13:1-17).
Who walks on the trail of discipleship with you? Do they teach, admonish, advocate, intercede, serve, and love you like family? Understand, in order to have this type of friend you first must act as one (next week I’ll finish this series by writing how Jesus used authentic community to cause spiritual growth in His sheep and how we too can follow His process).
Set Your Piggies Free! Get on the trail of discipleship.
 Edy Sutherland, The WHEE Factor (Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing, 2011) 26.