There is something glamorous about flying solo. Steve Fossett liked it. In March, 2005 the millionaire adventurer became the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world. The 23,000-mile flight took 67 hours, during which Fossett consumed diet shakes and grabbed catnaps while the plane flew on autopilot.
This wasn’t Fossett’s first solo venture either. After five failed attempts and two near-death experiences, he became, in 2002, the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo in a balloon.
Yes, there is something glamorous about flying solo. It seems daring and brave, and each of us seems to enjoy feeling independent, able to boldly take care of ourselves. But it’s a myth. Fossett really did not succeed alone. Perhaps nobody ever does.
For his round-the-world flight, Fossett was the only one in the cockpit, but a rather large team supported him. In spite of Fossett’s wealth, someone else provided the financing. Others designed the plane. Several flight engineers helped to plot his course. Other pilots flew chase planes to make sure he stayed on course. His solo flight was hardly accomplished alone.
For all of our longing to be a barnstorming solo pilot, our flight won’t be accomplished alone either – not if it’s to be successful. That’s why there is no such thing as solo Christianity. Thirty-seven times in the New Testament, there are imperative statements (commands) regarding what Christians are to do for “one another.” There are twenty others telling what Christians do for “each other.”
It is significant that church membership is not optional for those following Jesus Christ. We’re told in Acts 2:41 that, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day,” and that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (v. 47). It was automatic. As a person was saved, God enrolled him in the church; He still does.
Even the concept of following Jesus suggests participation in community. Jesus did not fly solo. He lived most of his ministry in close contact with his followers, even on a daily basis. As a Jew, “on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom” (Luke 4:16). To follow Jesus is to enter into a community of believers, to participate fully in the life of his church.
Flying solo may be glamorous, but it’s just not the way Christians travel.