Could there be any stronger statement about the value Jesus places on fellowship than when he sent his disciples out two by two? We don’t know for sure exactly how long these trips took but the bond that developed between these pairs in ministry must have been very strong. Here they were going through brand new experiences and going through them together.
Jesus sent them out with nothing “except a walking stick – no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. He told them to wear sandals but not to take even an extra coat. ‘When you enter each village, be a guest in only one home,’ He said. ‘And if a village won’t welcome you or listen to you, shake off its dust from your feet as you leave.'” (Mark 6:8-11) They were totally dependent on God and each other. I bet they were really thankful for that other person!
God has set up ministry to be a team-oriented enterprise. There are no lone rangers in ministry. I lived for the longest time thinking I was one of those masked men, but as someone has pointed out, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. So in the context of a two-person team, when the ministry appeared to be unsuccessful (like those villages where they would not be welcome) they still had each other and what they were learning together in the process.
That the Lone Ranger wears a mask is a detail that does not go unnoticed by this observer, either. It actually seems quite appropriate because when you minister alone, you can easily get good at being two different people – one in public and one in private – something that having a partner who knows you in both contexts helps to avoid.
This two-by-two thing is definitely a good idea. I’m sure that the pairing of the disciples was not to everyone’s liking. At some point in close proximity, even the best of friends grate on each other. I can imagine someone saying something like: “Do I have to go out with Matthew again? Come on, Jesus, I had him last time.” Maybe he snored, or had very disagreeable body odor, or maybe the two personalities just didn’t match up very well. But learning to tolerate, and even love each other, is an important part of this shared responsibility. It’s what happens to us in the process of what happens to the ministry. And sometimes it’s even more important than “the ministry.”
John Fischer resides in Southern California with his wife, Marti and son, Chandler. They also have two adult children, Christopher and Anne. John is a published author and popular speaker.
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