Riding a Bicycle & Social Holiness
People who know me know that I’m an avid bicyclist. I was introduced to riding a road bike in the early 1980s. Riding a bicycle is great fun. It keeps me physically fit. And I have made many friends in the cycling community.
Riding a bike helps me understand what John Wesley meant when he wrote there is “no holiness but social holiness.” He meant that the Christian life requires community and relationships centered in the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Christianity is essentially a matrix of relationships with Christ at the center. This is why Wesley also wrote, “holy solitaries is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers.”
Riding a bicycle with others is much more enjoyable and efficient than riding alone. When riding with a group of experienced riders you soon learn the benefits of riding in a paceline.
A paceline is a small group of riders riding in single file. They try to stay as close as possible to each other. Each rider tries to keep his or her front wheel inches from the rear wheel of the rider in front of him or her. Each rider takes turns in the lead. Riding this way reduces wind resistance and saves as much as 15% in energy output. A small group of riders in a paceline will go faster with less effort than riding individually.
Riding in a group also means that each rider must communicate clearly with the group. The leader must tell the riders behind him or her when he or she is slowing down by shouting, “Slowing” before applying his or her brakes. The rider behind repeats the warning so that everyone knows what is about to happen. This is done to prevent any rider from touching the slowing rear wheel of the rider in front of him or her with his or her front wheel and causing a both riders to fall.
Paceline riders also warn one another about hazards such as potholes, gravel on the road, railroad tracks, and approaching automobiles. This is done to protect one another from harm and to preserve the integrity of the paceline.
Riding in a paceline is a lot like following Jesus. The journey of discipleship is best taken with others. It can be done alone, but not very well, and with greater difficulty. This is why the congregation promises to surround each member with a community of love and forgiveness.
Christians who travel the journey of discipleship together in a small group, like a Covenant Discipleship group, listen to, support, and encourage each other. They warn one another about hazards and dangers along the way. They watch over one another in love. Disciples share a common destination (the reign of God) and do all in their power to help one another get there.
You can think of your covenant discipleship group as being like a bicycle team. You meet weekly to encourage, support, and listen to one another give their account of how each has witnessed to Jesus Christ in the world and followed his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The discipline of meeting together helps each member grow in holiness of heart and life and serve as disciples who disciple others.