As we further unpack our call as soldiers in God’s army, let’s continue learning about the legionaries in the time of the Roman Empire. Yesterday, we established that any man who signed up to partake in this important duty agreed to give up 25 years of his life to the cause; however, the promise on the other side was a piece of land and a pension, both of which were very enticing to someone born in poverty. Today, I want to talk about another important aspect of being a Roman warrior and how it empowered these men, who had to risk their lives routinely, to stay the course. Interestingly, upon enrolling for service, each soldier was put in a group with eight other men and two servants, and this small nucleus of ten remained together for the entire duration of their duty. They fought together, they protected each other, and they voted amongst themselves who would be their leader. This was important because Roman military commanders understood that those who knew one another best would most effectively fight for their comrades and their empire. Because they lived as family, they were able to bear the long, hard road of endurance required to fulfill their call. Fascinatingly, I think there’s a lot of parallels between the Roman legionaries and effective soldiers of Jesus Christ today, or in any era. While there’s no doubt that the road of a disciple is not an easy one, connection with people is the key to perseverance and victory. Only by sharing the walk with others, and being upheld in moments of both tragedy and triumph, can we stay strong until our race is complete.
My friend, your walk with God will only be as solid as your authentic fellowship with His people. While there are no conditions on your salvation and you are not required to share the company of others, the strength you gain from deep connection with fellow believers empowers you to fight the good fight of faith without capture or surrender. When you travel perilous roads with a tribe of devoted “Jesus-people,” they will shoulder your burden when it becomes too heavy to bear and watch your back when you must focus on the path ahead. Even if you fall, they will pick you up, dust you off, and care for you until you heal. No matter how rough the journey, living side-by-side with others infuses your heart with joy, creativity, and strength, for only in relationship can abundant life reach full bloom!