While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift... apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
I have always liked this passage, and I have preached from it several times.
Recently I read it in "The Message" (which I view as sort of a commentary). I was struck by how much this passage sounds like what "fellowship" really is and can be. As Dr. Platypus says, "Fellowship is more than donuts and coffee."
Within a day or so of reading the chapter, I watched the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz" based on L. Frank Baum's wonderful book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." (There was actually a whole series of Oz books, and I read most of them. The first book was by far the best.) Anyway, I watched the movie and was struck by how much it illustrates this passage. Dorothy is a leader, albeit a reluctant one, but she does what she needs to do even when she is frightened.
She collects her friends, a sad sort of crew, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion as she travels the road to a glorious destination.
These four fellow travellers are on the same road together, heading in the same direction. They stuck together, usually linking arms as they sang to keep their spirits up. They faced adversity together, and in spite of weakness they did not abandon one another even when it would have been easier to do so. They even found that what seemed to be weakness was really strength.
They were quite different, which is part of what makes this move so much fun to watch. I think they must have occasionally got on each other's nerves, don't you? Nonetheless, they learned to love one another on the journey, and they supported and encouraged each other to move past their limitations.
The Wicked Witch of the West tried to stop them by a distraction of poppies--lovely to look at and delightful to smell but really full of poison. How like sin! They overcame evil because they stuck together, and they were not afraid to ask for help when they needed it.
A while back I posted a link to an article about postmodern leadership and the emerging church. Here is one little snippet: "McLaren compares Dorothy to [the typical modern pastor], and the result is completely different. Dorothy is a bit disoriented, and she gathers other needy people in the belief that all their needs can be fulfilled in a common quest. Dorothy doesn't have all the answers and can't solve all the problems, but she believes that somehow they can journey together." The article, among other things, discusses Dorothy and Frodo as leaders. If you would like to read more, here it is. It is a fascinating read, in my opinion. And comforting too.
I hope you watch the DVD and I hope you never see it the same way again. :-)