When I was growing up, our summer church camp was Camp Bandina. The camp was about forty miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas, in the rolling hills of central Texas. It was a rustic place at the time. Most of the cabins just had screen windows. The dining pavilion was open air with just a top.
One of the highlights for most kids at camp was swimming. There was no sissy swimming pool at Camp Bandina; we swam in the river! It was COLD spring-fed river water right out of the Texas hills!
There were the normal pre-swim rituals - have to swim across the river (and the current) in order to be allowed in the deep section, no diving off the rocks, except in the approved section, and absolutely most important - nobody but NOBODY went swimming without a “buddy.”
Every swimmer was paired up with somebody. It was your responsibility to keep track of your “buddy” and several times during each session, the lifeguard whistle sounded and all “buddies” had to pair up and stand together with their hands raised. Unlike a clear blue pool where everybody was right together all the time, the dark river rocks and flowing water required that everybody watch out for everybody else all the time.
Life in the early church was no doubt different from us in many ways. The distances that people lived from one another was smaller. Their interdependence on one another was greater. Travel was limited, communities were close knit. Keeping up with each other was not as difficult.
Life in the modern church is very different. The chances are that most of us have little or no contact with any other member of the church at Maysville throughout the week, except family. For the few who do have greater contact, it is most likely with just a close few friends. We live away from one another. We travel a lot. We stay busy with work and have little interaction with each other. In fact, in the modern church, members rarely interact at all, except at worship. And when things are normal, even there we may limit ourselves to family contacts or just a few people who sit around us in the same places.
Right now things are anything but normal. We really need to emphasize a greater awareness of our church family. Fellowship does not mean food. It means we are all in this together. And right now we ALL need a buddy check!
- Tim Orbison