Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labour:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
It’s a well known passage, maybe even too well known?
Often used at weddings (in fact we had this at our wedding among a few others!) yet I think this often misses the bigger point of the passage.
we live in a world that prizes independence and self reliance, the age of the cult of personality, in the time where individualism rules supreme. The boast of “I did it my way” seems to me to be the ultimate statement of the journey of the one, the solitary.
Yet as John Donne reminds us “no man is an island”.
God himself said “It is not good for man to be alone”.
we live in a world where human beings need one another, we are an interdependent species, even the most antisocial of us is still a relational being.
At the start of her (amazing) book about singleness Kate Wharton writes about the difficulty of flat-pack furniture on your own (being really untechnical and having tried to do this myself on my own, it did make me smile). we as human beings think we are self sufficient and in reality a trip to Ikea leaves us in need of assistance.
If you are like me, I am very willing to help other people, but I am much less good at being gracious enough to allow other people to serve me.
This passage is a reminder that everyone benefits when we as human beings let our walls down to one another, society works better when human beings collaborate, more is achieved by commonality in a task, in fact we often need one another just to survive.
Jesus knows our need of each other, he sent the 12 and the 72 out in pairs, just as Moses had sent out the spies into the promised land into pairs, and Barnabas and Paul, and Paul and Silas again were God sending out missional pairs in Ministry.
Out today with Dan my wonderful placement student giving out chocolates on the high street and I completely dried up, and he stepped into the conversation and took over for me.
Humanly speaking the Mission of God was never -and should never be- a one man (or woman) band.
Yet interestingly at a recent pioneer conference, at the last session all of us began to open up about just how lonely and isolated we have found this work of pioneering fresh expressions of Church. Often in Church leadership we are very alone.
This reminded me of a sermon my dad preached about Zerubbabel -who was a pioneer builder who walked close to God in obedience in the Old Testament- that he was supported by Joshua the High Priest. His call was that you might not be called to be a Zerubbabel, but you can be a Joshua, you can find someone who is sticking their neck out for the Kingdom of God and support them.
Maybe you are a ‘can do’ type person that doesn’t think they need anyone else, if so, this passage is challenging you to come to a realisation of your own need of other human beings.
Then as you realise your need of other human beings, most of us can’t even manage a piece of flat pack furniture on our own, we then realise if this is how much I need other fallible human beings, how much more do I need God in my life.
If two is so much better than one, how much better is 3?
A verse Allana and I were given at our wedding was “Jesus himself drew close and walked with them, but they were kept from recognising him” (Luke 24.15).
Jesus is that one we often need, the one who silently carries us, the one who helps us often without us even noticing it, and yet the one we need most, for it is in him that we “live and move and have our being”.
So, a challenge, think of our need of God, think of our need of each other, as Christians we are called to see life prioritising both our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with one another.
when we think of following Jesus we realise that this is something we cannot do in our own strength, we need not only God’s help but the help of one another, but also called to help each other too.
To carry my cross I need the help of my God.
To carry my cross I need the help of m brothers and sisters in Christ.
For us to carry our crosses, can I help you and can you help me?