Plutarch once wrote about the king of Sparta receiving a visit from an ambassador on a diplomatic mission. The diplomat asked to see the fabled abode of the Spartan warriors. Expecting to view massive fortifications surrounding the town, he could not hide his disappointment. He asked the king, “Your Majesty, you have no fortress for defense. I see no high walls. Why is this?” The ruler responded, “Ah, but we are extremely well protected. Come with me tomorrow and I will show you the walls of Sparta.”
The next day, the ambassador was invited to review the army where they were drawn up in full battle dress. Pointing proudly to his fearsome soldiers, the king declared, “Behold the walls of
Sparta – 10,000 men and every man a brick!”
Spartans were trained to fight in two ways. In individual combat, each soldier was equipped with the proper weapons and techniques to defeat an opponent. But their greatest strength was as a unified body. They fought in a phalanx, interlocking their shields for both defensive and offensive action. With files 8-12 men deep, their units were almost impossible to penetrate.
There are some obvious parallels to the Christian life. Each of us is equipped and gifted by the Holy Spirit to lead meaningful and effective lives. With His power, each of us can stand strong in the face of trial and challenge.
However, we were never meant to go it alone. I grow weary of Lone Ranger Christians who do not seem to appreciate the value of Christian community or the importance of serving, learning, giving, praying, and imparting grace through the body of the church. Paul described the church in those terms – parts of a body functioning together for the cause of Christ. Christians who do not understand the vital nature of body life remind me of the usefulness of a single brick. You don’t find many buildings made of one brick.
What are you and I doing to strengthen the body of Christ? Oh, what we could accomplish together! Hand me another brick!