This week, my wife and I got a touching note from a former student. Amongst other things, it said this:
“I feel beyond thankful for your loyal friendship… I think my faith took a ‘piggyback ride’ on yours for awhile there, and it made all the difference.”
As a dad, I am something of an expert on piggyback rides.
But that line has me thinking of the concept in the realm of friendship.
Can tired faith climb aboard the shoulders of another person?
I hope so.
In opposition to this notion, some think of faith as a completely individual possession.
It’s like underwear and toothbrushes. You don’t share.
After all, you can’t believe for someone else. Thus, preachers often (and rightly) emphasize the importance of each person deciding what they will do with Christ. And I don’t disagree with that. Yet the Scriptures also say things that call into question our culture’s rampant individualism, even when it comes to faith.
I could cite lots of examples, but I’ll stick with one.
Consider this passage about a paralyzed man who is “piggybacked” (er… carried) to a house where Jesus is. After his friends dig a massive whole in the building’s roof, the lame man is then lowered down to be with Jesus.
Mark’s version, says it this way:
“When Jesus saw their faith [that is, the faith of the men who had just ripped open the roof and lowered down the mat], he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’” (Mk. 2.5).
Reread that. When Jesus saw the faith of the man’s friends—the ones who had carried him to Jesus—he forgave (and healed) the paralytic. The commentators are unanimous.
Now, I don’t doubt that the lame man also believed in Christ. Especially when he started walking.
But the passage doesn’t emphasize that. The passage emphasizes the faith of the man’s friends.
So what’s the takeaway?
I don’t know the exact distance or extent that faith can be “piggybacked.”
I’ll leave that to God.
But I do know this:
I’m grateful to have some friends who would–beyond a shadow of a doubt–rip off the roof, risk felony charges, and rain down drywall on the Son of God if they thought that it would help me.
“Greater love has no one than this,that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15.13).