Yesterday I took my two middle boys out on a cycling adventure. Since moving to the city of Montreal 12 years ago I have had the goal of cycling across the ice boom that spans the St. Lawrence River. My older son and I had discovered this bridge when we first arrived and every years since then we planned on cycling across it. Yet, every year there was always something that prevented us from doing it.
My oldest son has now grown up on me and moved to another city so yesterday I asked my middle aged sons, Silas and Joshua, if they would like to come with me. Always ready for an adventure with their dad they accepted the invitation and we made our plans.
The thing is that my sons do not have equal bicycles. Silas, being the oldest, inherited a bicycle that I bought last year which ended up not fitting me. It is a great bicycle and expensive. Joshua unfortunately still has a five speed bicycle because I have not yet repaired his brother's old bicycle to give to him. Knowing that this adventure would end up being the hardest on Joshua, because of his limited bicycle, Silas and I agreed that Joshua would take the lead and set the pace. We would go no faster than Joshua could peddle and we would rest when Joshua got tired.
We had the best day we have ever spent together. We had great conversation along the trail. We enjoyed stopping to watch the boats go through the locks on the Lachine Canal. We explored a part of the city we have never been to before. We stood in awe of the power of the St. Lawrence River as we watched it from the ice boon bridge. We went beyond the bridge and traversed a peninsula-type island just for bicycles. We even discovered an off-road trail that led to a great spot for lunch where the boys waded in the St. Lawrence look for clam shells. We had fun dodging trees, navigating mud ponds and falling down hills. We did it together and enjoyed it at the speed that suited Joshua.
The point here is that we enjoyed ourselves together. Silas and I had better bicycles and could have done the trip in half the time but we would have left Joshua behind. We would have have been poorer without his company and enjoyable spirit, and he would have missed out on the adventure. Perhaps we could keep this lesson in mind when we read:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1-2)
If only we could grasp that it is not about being the fastest, strongest, wisest, or even about proving that we are right. It is about being together; not being the same, not being at the same place, but being together. Joshua did not make the decision to take the lead but Silas and I did in the position of being the stronger. We limited ourselves to Joshua's strength for the purpose of unity. We as the Church need to be pursuing unity much more than we are now:
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Is that our desire today as we gather with our brother's and sister's to worship our Lord Jesus Christ? Don't we want to do that with one heart and mouth? Isn't that how Jesus said the world would know we belong to him, by our unity of love? There is only one way to achieve unity:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)
With all our differences, with our various levels of maturity, with our differing strengths and weaknesses, we are in this together. We have been brought into the same journey, the same adventure by Jesus. We share more than just the same Lord, the same Spirit, the same Father; we also share the same purpose and destination. With this in mind, let us who are stronger limit ourselves to those who are weaker so that we do not push them beyond their current ability and end up losing their company. In this way we remain united and will enjoy each others company and will bring praise to God..
An amazing thing happens along the way; when the weak hang out with the strong they in turn increase their strength and achieve greater maturity and ability. Joshua's legs got stronger as we went along, our speed increased and we were taking less breaks. For our next adventure Silas and I hope Joshua will have a new bicycle that will permit him to do even better, but if not, we will again allow him to take the lead because it is all about being together.