Most of you will have heard of, and perhaps read, the old classic—Pilgrim’s Progress. An old Baptist Puritan—John Bunyan—wrote this christian allegory during some seasons of imprisonment, and published it in 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of English literature. J.I. Packer has read this book at least once a year for more than half a century because he finds it a classic above all other classics of the Christian life.
The Christian life is pictured as a journey, from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. And along the way, one of the important themes he brings out, is the importance of companionship. ‘Christian’, the main character, travels with ‘Faithful’, and then after he is martyred in Vanity Fair, he travels with ‘Hopeful’. When they travel together, the journey seems less tiring and the time passes more quickly. Having the same Prince and the same destination made them feel like brothers. Packer writes about the lesson drawn from this:
‘Every believer needs at least one fellow Christian with whom to walk closely, in full and frank openness about the ongoing experiences of both parties. While there is much to be said for the classic form of spiritual direction, in which the director’s care for the counselee is a one-way street, there is even more to be said for the Bunyan idea of companionship, in which the care is mutual.’ Do you have a true friend?