The Lord’s church is a body. It is an army. It is a family. As such, the church is at its strongest when her members cooperate and work together for the good of the whole.
Instead of being self-centered, God wants us to be others-oriented. Rather than thinking only about what we personally want, the Lord wants us to think about what is good for the church. In contrast to demanding that everyone else comply with our preferences, our God wants us to have a spirit of humility that counts others as better than ourselves and looks out for the needs of others (Philippians 2:3,4).
The Holy Spirit through Paul likened the Lord’s spiritual body being comprised of individual members to the different members/parts of our physical body. He said, “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body . . . But God composed the body . . . that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:20,24-27).
As a body, the church functions at its highest level of effectiveness when the members are cooperating and working together. Imagine how hard it would be for us to see if one eye faces one direction and the other eye looks elsewhere. Or, imagine the difficulties we would face if one of our feet tried to go right while the other one at the same time tried to go left. A lack of cooperation would be a disaster, would it not? The same principle holds true among God’s people and the work in which we engage for Him.
A second image we mentioned already is the Christ’s church being an army/military outfit. Paul implored Timothy to be “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3), calling on him to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Yes, all Christians are “soldiers” in the Lord’s army. If the soldiers of a nation’s military never communicated with one another and each one just went out to do their own thing, the consequences would be devastating, even potentially life-threatening to some. The same is true in God’s Cause: a failure to communicate, cooperate, and work together can greatly hinder the work, even be deadly to it.
A third picture is that of the church being God’s house/family (1 Timothy 3:15). Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). The broad spiritual application is too plain to miss.
Let us think about some positive cases from history where God’s people cooperated and worked together. God gave the pattern for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8,9), but in order to collect the materials for it, cut, sew, and put those materials in place, then finally erect the tabernacle, it would have taken tremendous cooperation and working together out there in the wilderness of Sinai (Exodus 19:1,2).
When some of the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity to find the city of Jerusalem and its walls in a mess, Nehemiah stepped forward as an outstanding leader of the people. One of his strong suits was his ability to identify the work that needed to be done, then persuade the people to “buy into” the project and put their hearts into it (Nehemiah 2:17-20; 4:6). The Jews’ cooperation and working together made that reconstruction project a thing of beauty.
The Holy Spirit sent, then Barnabas and Saul went (Acts 13:1-4). Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). That is working together with both God and brethren!
Read the closing sections of Paul’s letters and you will see him referring to “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Colossians 4:11), “my fellow laborers” (Philemon 24), and those “who labored much in the Lord” (Romans 16:12). You cannot put a price tag on a heart that wants to work with others to glorify God and help in His Cause!
In their secular jobs, some Christians hold a high position in large companies. In the church, though, they are on equal footing with all others. Other saints operate their own successful, private business. In the church, though, they have no right to dictate to others what they must do. Some disciples serve as a principal/headmaster of a school, but in the church, they are not bosses. They are on equal footing with all others. Coopering and working together in the church is not about one’s secular occupation or social rank. Rather, it is about (1) loving the Lord above all else, (2) having a spirit of humility, and (3) having a heart that wants to work for God’s glory.
When the leaders of the local church seek workers, can they count on you and me? When a project is organized, will you and I be ready to cooperate and work together with other saints?
— Roger D. Campbell