Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV): Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Just as God said in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” People are best when they live together and work together. It is the same among Christians, but to an even larger degree. Christianity was never meant to be a solitary thing, full of holy hermits living in isolation. From the very beginning, God put His people together into groups, communities. The Church as God designed it is a good example of community: a group of people, each with his or her own gifts, graces, and skills, but all fulfilling one mission together: to go and make disciples of everyone.
Part of the problem that the modern Church has today is its tendency toward isolationism. Each member lives their own lives, and come together as a community only briefly, for worship and study, once or twice a week. Prayer requests are shared only when there is an unconquerable obstacle, and financial, relational, and spiritual struggles are shared very reluctantly, if at all, for fear of damage to ones reputation or standing. Work is done together on “projects” or “events,” but each is pretty much left on their own for any evangelism that they do, or any ministry that they do. (In fact, most people talk about “my ministry,” or “John’s ministry,” as opposed to “our ministry.”) This isolationism has intensified in this age of technology. It is rare to see groups of Christians getting together regularly as they used to, just to talk over the events of the day, the importance of current events in the life of the faith, etc. Nobody seems to have that kind of time any more, and everyone seems to always be tired and stressed from what we do in our “real world” jobs and activities. And so, instead, we entertain ourselves with movies and television, and computer games, all of which are isolationist in their very nature, even if they are done with other people present.
The life that God has called His people to cannot be effectively lived alone – it must be lived out in real community, where God’s love and grace is set free to create a deep and abiding unity; so deep and passionate that it makes the world sit up and take notice. A unity in diversity, where people’s gifts and graces and skills complement those of others, and make the mission of the whole Church effective. Where the “real world” is the world where God has called them to do the work of His kingdom. Where everyone works together to accomplish the ONE, multifaceted mission of the Church, and where everything else in a person’s life is done in support of that one mission. Where life is shared on such a profound level that prayer requests are naturally shared on every facet of a person’s life and faith walk, with no fear of gossip or recrimination. Where God’s people have a good return from their work, because of the synergy that comes from unity – each one’s work and gifts reinforcing each other’s. Where those who stumble have someone (or several “someones”) walking beside them who can help them to regain their feet quickly. Where needs are met immediately and completely without any need for a program or structure, because there are others right there, living their lives together. Where physical and spiritual safety are easy to come by, since life is lived together, and any threat is faced not by one, but by many united together. Where unity is the norm, and factions and divisions do not exist – and where there is so much unity in the atmosphere that any factions and divisions that the enemy does try to foment, instantly die from lack of oxygen! This is the Church as God designed it. This the Church that He can and will restore in any place where He is asked, and allowed to work,
Father, this is the Church that I want to be a part of. DO work powerfully in my congregation, and in congregations all over our nation, to remake and rebuild Your Church as You designed it to be. Amen!