What is the significance of being sent out two by two?
God could have sent out each disciple one per region because that would maximize their missionary reach.
But why were two sent out together?
Have you heard of the Partner Effect experiment where they had a group of people evaluating the length of 3 lines? One of the lines was clearly longer than the other 2. And everyone was in on it and they were told to say that all 3 lines were equal length. Except one person who was the focus of this experiment and not privy to his trickery. And the experiment was to see how that one person would respond to social pressure.
And the experiment showed the high probability that the sole person would succumb to the pressure to conform. But when there was just 1 other person who said, no, those 3 lines are not all equal length, then the person being monitored was confident to speak the truth. That’s the partner affect. You just need 1 other partner to give you confidence to take a minority position.
The same principle applies to Christian life. There are tremendous pressures all around us to maximize our talents and reach our potential and to live in a way that conforms with others in our peer group.
And if you are feeling that kind of pressure to conform, how difficult it is to read a passage like this and to take it literally. You mean I have to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first and to preach God’s Word and move wherever God tells me to go and to trust that God will take care of all of my physical needs? That’s really hard.
That’s why we need 1 other faith partner. One person to tell you, no, you are not crazy to hang your life on Christ and his call.
This is really important. You guys are like nomads right now. You haven’t settled. You are wandering from Caltech, to a future grad school, or to a future company, or to a tenured position at a university.
And because your future is uncertain and you are in a wandering season of your life, I think many students make the mistake of missing the importance of investing in faith partners. Wherever God places you, we should seek out faith partners. Someone who is going to be with you for the long haul, a person who will serve with you in ministry and the two of you will grow old together and experience God together.
One approach to the Christian life that I don’t agree with is to make decisions purely on a personal basis, choosing whatever is best for you, and wherever you go, assuming that God is going to bless you and surround you with a community of believers.
I see many Christians make choices for grad school or what job to take based on US News World Report rankings and which job pays the most money.
They pray, but their prayer is basically, Lord, if you open the door to the best school or the most prestigious job, then that surely must be your will for me to go there or take that job.
God is the one who calls the shots and we rearrange our lives to join God’s plan, not the other way around.
And if we follow God’s will whatever the cost, I guarantee that you will feel the need for a faith partner. Because a life of obeying God is hard. That’s why each of us needs a faith partner or more, but at least one.
I’m not talking about the 10-20 acquaintances or friends we all have. But that 1 or 2 faith partner and you commit to one another. For the long haul.
That’s why I am going to be a pastor. Because I believe in the church and only in the church do you have this type of long-term covenant to one another.
I’ve known Brother Matthew and Brother Daniel since my college days in the early 90s. And I’ve known Brother John for the past 6-7 years. I call them brothers because I consider them like my blood brothers.
When some people told Jesus that his mother and sisters were outside the door, he answered in Mark 3:35, who are my mother and my sisters? Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.
Matthew, Daniel and John are my brothers because we are serving and obeying the will of God together and we’ve committed to one another for as long as God allows.
For Matthew and Daniel, we went our separate ways and served God in different churches and mission fields, but God brought us together one by one several years in Pasadena. And our church was established initially to reach out to Caltech students. Brother John was one of our disciples and now he is serving with us. And let me tell you, that is the greatest joy in Christian ministry. Anyone can gather a crowd of people around them, but the ones who really count are the ones who will be with you during the toughest times.
Without their presence in my lives and their support, I would not even consider being a pastor. Because I know that to be a pastor is hard. In many ways, God is calling me to literally live out these verses in Mark. It’s a hard life and I know in the future, there are going to be times that I will want to give up. But that’s when my brothers, my faith partners, come in to carry me on the mat of prayer and to carry my burdens. This is church.
And when I teach about love, I cannot just speak about love in abstract terms. I need to model it. Love needs to be evident in my relationships.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
We need faith partners not only to encourage us to obey a hard calling, but also because people need to know we are his disciples by our love for one another.
How many people do you love to such a degree that when someone sees your interaction with that person, he concludes, those guys must be disciples of Jesus Christ. By our love for one another — that’s our witness.
That’s a challenging question. We throw around the word “love” very casually. I love ice cream. I love my campus. I love all Christians in the entire world. I love my dog. The word “love” has been so diluted.
But Jesus’ challenge to us is that the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus by the quality and depth and breadth of our love for other believers.
And unless you have an expansive heart, you cannot love that many people in this kind of deep way that the Bible demands. Even Jesus chose only 12 and he was the Son of God.
David had Jonathan. Ruth had Naomi. Paul had Timothy. It starts with one person.
I pray that you can find that faith partner and that you would commit to that person for the long haul.