Another aspect to last night hanging out with Scott and Emmaus Life members was the video we watched. For the past few months, we’ve been watching videos from Francis Chan’s Basic Series. After each video we share our thoughts about what God has been teaching us throughout the week and what parts of the video lined up with what God has been doing in our individual lives. As my last two posts have been about, God showed me something in the video we watched last night. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but reflecting back on it now, God was showing me what He wants from me: loyalty.
To back up a bit, with every Basic video, there are a few actors and actresses playing out various scenes to give a metaphorical (sometimes literal) example of what Chan is talking about. In last night’s video, we saw the main characters we’ve seen in nearly every video before staying with a community living on a beach. These characters have gone through some interesting things together and have invested into each other as though they couldn’t choose otherwise. And they had finally come to a big family of people who loved freely and recklessly, yet were gentle and joyful. It seemed as though they had found their home after their long journey in the other videos.
Yet one of the girls in the small group of friends seemed uncomfortable. She appeared to enjoy the people they were with, but it was clear to her traveling companions that something was on her mind. Sitting on a log on the beach, she stared into the distance even when she was looking right at one of her friends. And then again at the dinner table with all the people of the community; she laughed and enjoyed everyone’s presence, but very clearly had something on her mind. All the while Francis Chan was talking about how church works and how we seem to treat it like an event to experience rather than people to get to know. Toward the end of the video, she got up early in the morning while everyone was sleeping, and left. She returned to the journey.
What happened next I think reflects the kind of people God wants us to be. When her friends woke up, they noticed immediately that she was gone. And instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, they sprang up, gathered what clothes they’d need, and headed out after her. Instead of letting her leave and going her separate way, they chose to stay with her. It meant they had to give up comfort and security, but that never seemed to cross their minds because they were barely awake when they left and were still putting shoes on as they ran.
I don’t think the message was to be constantly on the move like Jesus was. It wasn’t about discomfort on mission trips being better than comfort in church-like settings; it was about sticking with your companions. It was about loyalty. When they finally found her some distance away in the wilderness, they didn’t ask why she left so suddenly or what was going on in her mind to leave such a heavenly setting; they hugged her, grabbed her bags, and marched on with her.
What Scott Lamb has always been challenging Emmaus Life with is establishing and retaining a strong relational bond with each other so that if any of us were to move to a different city or a different country, we’d go with them in spirit if not in body also. They wouldn’t become somebody we used to know that we’d happen to bump into years down the road at a coffee shop where we’d make some awkward chit-chat about life and how quickly time flies. No; we’d be checking up on them from time to time in our own time – not relying on emails from the pastor to inform us how they’re doing. Even in their absence, they’d still be present with their personalities, their intentions, their love of God, and their involvement with us when they were in the same room. Loyalty like that is what we’re after.
I’ve always glossed over the parts in Paul’s letters where he talks a bunch about “longing to be with” that particular community he’s writing to. But now those are the only verses that come to mind when I think of the video we watched and when I think of Scott’s vision – and by extension, our vision – with Emmaus Life. What I mean is, Paul was such an intentional relational investor that even if he was miles and miles away investing in other people, he was still thinking of all those people he had already invested in long ago. He was so moved for them that he wrote them letters. Because of that devotion, that loyalty to those communities, we have New Testament Scriptures.
Toward the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo begins a journey he thought on his own. His friend Sam comes running up behind Frodo as he takes off in a boat to cross a river. Sam doesn’t let the lack of a boat or the lack of swimming skills stop him; he just starts wading through the water chasing after Frodo. He nearly drowned because of his loyalty to Frodo. May we have such a loyalty with each other.
“Peace to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible,” – Ephesians 6:23-24