Work and Cooperate with Other Christians
WORK AND COOPERATE WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
Loved ones, people who are striving to live the Christian life must learn to cooperate with other Christians and with God. Man alone is a very helpless being. HOW DOES HE BECOME STRONG? He becomes strong by relating himself to forces outside himself. Man relates himself to natural power in the world and by use of steam, electricity, and machinery multiplies his strength. Christians also increase their spiritual power by cooperating and working together. "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor” (Eccl. 4:9).
2. Cooperation is a test of intelligence. Someone said to the manager of a mental institution, "Are you not afraid the inmates will combine against you?" He replied, ''No, if they had sense enough to cooperate, they would not be here." COMMENTS
II. CHRISTIANS MUST WORK TOGETHER
1. "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. 6:1). Not only must we work, but we must work together.
2. WHAT FIGURE DID PAUL USE TO EMPHASIZE COOPERATIVE WORK? Paul teaches cooperative work by using the figure of the human body. “12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?… 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor. 12:14-17, 27).
Each member of Christ's body should supply his part. “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16).
The human body is used to illustrate the church. The figure teaches both individual and cooperative activity for the good of the whole. The church is to be fitly joined and knit together, and its growth is “according to the effectual working in the measure of every part."
The function of the various parts of the human body remind us of the story of the blind man and the crippled man who wanted to go to a certain place. That which seemed impossible was accomplished through cooperation. The man unable to walk climbed on the strong back of the blind man and they started their journey. The blind man did the walking and the crippled man did the seeing. Through this means they arrived at their destination.
3. WHAT INSECT WAS MENTIONED BY AGUR TO ILLUSTRATE COOPERATIVE WORK? Agur teaches the wisdom of cooperative work by referring to the locust: " “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands" (Prov. 30:27). This well-known insect of the grasshopper family cannot do much alone, but by uniting their activities, they can be grievously destructive, as is seen in Ex. 10:3-6, 12-15.
4. Solomon also spoke of a “THREEFOLD CORD” to illustrate strength through unity and cooperation (Ecc. 4:12). A small cord will not lift much weight, but several cords twisted together become exceedingly strong.
An aged story gives us an example of an old man who gave a bound bundle of sticks to his sons and said, "Break them." Each tried and failed. He then untied the sticks and gave them to the boys, saying, "Try again." The sticks were easily broken one by one. The aged father then said, ''My sons, the lesson is easy: as long as you stick together and work together, you are strong; but if you become divided, you are weak." What a lesson for Christians! COMMENTS
5. HOW ARE CHRISTIANS DESCRIBED IN 1 COR. 3: 9? "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building" (1 Cor. 3:9). In speaking of associate work in the gospel, Paul said, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase" (1 Cor. 3:6).
6. WHAT GREAT WORK WAS NEHEMIAH, WITH THE COOPERATION OF MANY OTHERS, ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH? Nehemiah was able to accomplish the huge task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem through cooperation. When Nehemiah explained his purpose, the people replied, "Let us rise up and build" (Neh. 2:17-18). The task was so great that their enemies took delight in ridiculing them for even thinking that they could accomplish this enormous undertaking (Neh. 2:19-20; 4:3).
But through faithful, cooperative labor of the builders, the walls went up. The enemies of God's people then became alarmed and decided to rush them in battle. This threat was overcome through cooperation. Some worked while others watched and guarded (Neh. 4:15-18).
“So built we the wall . . . for the people had a mind to work" (Neh. 4:6). Note that Nehemiah said "we." WHAT COMMON MISTAKE DO MANY MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH MAKE IN REFERRING TO WHAT THE CHURCH IS DOING OR NOT DOING? Many in the church today, in referring to the congregation in which they are members, say “they;" what ''they" are doing, or what "they" are not doing. If one is a member, why should he not refer to the church as "we," and let it be what "we" are doing? COMMENTS
III. REASONS WHY SOME FAIL TO COOPERATE
1. A lack of oneness hinders cooperation. Christians are to walk by the same rule: "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Phil. 3:16). God's children are to be of the same mind: "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27).
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psa. 133:1).
WHAT IS BOTH A HATEFUL AND AN ABOMINABLE THING IN THE SIGHT OF GOD? (Prov. 6:19)."He that soweth discord among brethren" does a hateful and an abominable thing in the sight of God (Prove 6:16-19).
If we work against each other, what will happen? We shall destroy ourselves. "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15). COMMENTS
2. WHAT ARE THE TWO DISPOSITIONS MENTIONED IN 1 COR. 12: 15, 21 WHICH KEEP CHRISTIANS FROM COOPERATING?
(1) Self-depreciation. The foot underestimates its value because it is not the hand, and the ear minimizes its worth because it is not the eye (1 Cor. 12:15-16). Hence, some members fail to be of any use in the church because they think that they do not amount to anything. It is true that our talents vary, but God will hold each responsible for what he can do, whether it be small or large (Matt. 25:14-30).
(2) Depreciation of other Christians. "And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:21). The eye must not think that it is the aristocratic member of the body and has no need of the ear. Each Christian should appreciate and work with all other Christians. COMMENTS
3. A self-willed spirit. Paul wrote: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). However, trouble will come when a person is set on having his way regardless of the wishes of others. Following the philosophy of “have my way or else” will sooner or later result in strife. It is easy to see the wisdom of God in stipulating that elders must not be self-willed (Titus 1:7), and that they must not lord it over the charge allotted to them (1 Peter 5:3).
A lack of understanding between the overseers or elders of the flock and its other members may prevent cooperation. There is no point in having leadership unless you have “follow-ship." Both are essential. The elders should lead the flock. It is to be regretted when a congregation has to lead its leaders.
A motorist was flagged to a stop by a man who said, "Mister, did you seen a group of people walking down the road. When the driver replied in the affirmative, the man commented, Well, I'd better hurry on down there, because I’m their leader." They had already gone off and left the leader.
The congregation should follow the leadership in the Lord's work. Lord willing, we will again one day have an eldership. We are commanded to “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). COMMENTS
Let’s close this class be getting a little personal. Do I cooperate in reaching the lost? In restoring the fallen? In visiting new members? In building up the Bible classes? In attending the services during a gospel meeting and on all other scheduled occasions? In visiting the sick? In burying the dead? In caring for the needy? In creating a reverent, friendly, and progressive atmosphere? In passing out literature? And in financing the Lord's work? To sum it up, if everyone in the church should cooperate or fail to cooperate as you do, what kind of church would it be? The God of Heaven is so Good. We love you all so much. Samuel