We human beings need each other for support and companionship, and we believers also need the support and companionship of other Christians. The Lord doesn’t expect us to live a Christian life all by ourselves.
The principle of spiritual companionship in the Word
Though the terms Christian companions or spiritual companions aren’t in the Bible, the principle can be found throughout the Scriptures. For example, let’s look at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 in the Old Testament:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; for if they fall, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls and does not have another to lift him up!”
When we’re all by ourselves as lone Christians, we may become discouraged by our sins or failures and find it difficult to go on in our Christian life. But if we have at least one spiritual companion, we have someone who can lift us up when we fall, encourage us, and help us turn back to the Lord, and at other times, we can do the same for them.
In the New Testament, Mark 2:3-5 gives a wonderful example of what companions can do for one another:
“And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic carried by four men. And being unable to bring him to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof where He was. And when they had dug through, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, Child, your sins are forgiven.”
The paralyzed man was unable to come to Jesus; on his own he was without hope. But his four friends lowered him through the roof to bring him to Jesus. Eventually, having forgiven the man’s sins, Jesus told him to rise, take up his mat, and go to his house, which he immediately did. Because of what his friends did for him, the man received the forgiveness of his sins and was healed.
When we feel “paralyzed” in our spiritual life, our companions can help us come to the Lord Jesus. We can pray for one another or share with each other something from God’s Word that helps us rise up and go on. Or as we fellowship together, the Lord may shine on something in us, and we realize we need to pray to confess something to the Lord to be forgiven. Even our simple caring for one another in brotherly love can encourage and rescue us when we’re floundering.
Furthermore, the apostle Paul instructed a younger brother in the Lord in 2 Timothy 2:22:
“But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Here Paul exhorted Timothy to flee lustful things and pursue a Christian living by attaching himself to those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart; these are ones he could pursue the Lord with.
Spiritual companions being different than friends
After we’re saved, it’s very helpful to seek out spiritual companions to pursue the Lord with. We may still spend time with our other friends, but our intention in being with them shouldn’t be to indulge in the things of the world. Instead, our heart for them should be that they also would come to know and pursue the Lord. In some cases, our relationships with them may change as we speak to them about Jesus.
First Corinthians 15:33 warns us that “evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Our friends may not be evil, but if they’re not actively pursuing Christ, they can negatively influence us. Most of us have had unbelieving friends or even Christian friends who say or do things we don’t feel comfortable participating in. We may have a strong desire to help them know the Lord, but going along with them to do things that bother our conscience won’t bring them to Christ. In fact, it will only frustrate our growth and perhaps even derail our Christian life.
To illustrate, picture yourself standing on a chair. Now imagine yourself trying to lift someone onto the chair with you. Not so easy! It’s extremely difficult for you to pull another person up onto a chair; it’s much easier for the person on the floor to pull you down. In the same way, it’s fairly easy for us to be pulled down in our Christian walk by our unsaved friends, despite our good intentions to pull them up.
This isn’t to say we should have nothing to do with our friends. God’s desire is that our friends would be saved and come to the full knowledge of the truth. One of the benefits of having Christian companions is that we can pray together for our friends. We can also fellowship together about the best way to be with our friends and talk to them about the Lord. Our companions provide other hands to help us lift up our friends, and together, we’re saved from being pulled down. Not only so, we’re also not left shouldering the care for others by ourselves.
Examples of spiritual companions in the Bible
The Lord Jesus doesn’t want us to live a solo Christian life. In the Gospels, for example, Jesus sent the disciples out to spread the gospel two by two, not one by one.
This practice of going out together with companions continued throughout Acts, with the disciples traveling and preaching together. Look at the account of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:25-26 when they were thrown into prison and their feet put into stocks:
“And about midnight Paul and Silas, while praying, sang hymns of praise to God; and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken. And instantly all the doors were opened and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
Even the apostle Paul might have felt hopeless if Silas, his fellow pursuer of Christ, hadn’t been with him. Together they were strengthened to pray and sing, despite their desperate situation; all the prisoners heard the two singing and praising, and as a result, the jailer and his whole family received the Lord Jesus.
Paul continued to travel and minister with Barnabas, Silas, Luke, Timothy, and other brothers in the Lord. Many of his epistles were written with one of his companions at his side. These weren’t simply friends who happened to be Christians. They were spiritual companions Paul could fellowship, pray, and speak the gospel with. Even as an aged apostle and a mature Christian, Paul was dependent on Christian companionship.
Pray for healthy companions
Whether we’re new believers or we’ve been saved a while, Christian companionship is necessary for a healthy spiritual life. If we don’t yet have companions, we can pray to ask the Lord to help us find at least one person we can read the Bible, pray, and enjoy Christian fellowship with in a regular way.