(Today’s guest post comes via 30 year Christian Ministry Veteran Tim Whistine.)
To the Corinthian believers Paul penned, “For we are labourers together with God …” (I Corinthians 3:9 KJV). As I read this passage recently, I began to ponder whether or not Paul intentionally penned it in the sequence he did. It seemed to leap out at me that until the believers in a local congregation achieve the status of being laborers together, God doesn’t enter the sequence. Look at the sentence structure again. First, believers in the local assembly must unite themselves together and jointly labor for the good of God’s kingdom. It is only after this occurs that Paul adds the word “God.” If the sequence of Paul’s words matter at all, he may have been trying to cue believers in on a very important fact. That being, unless we can join together in our efforts to move the work of God forward, God may not even show up!
Booker T. Washington once addressed the issue of segregation by stating that blacks and whites “can be as separate as the five fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” His point is a valid one. Unless any people can learn to work together, creating the necessary synergy to move forward, achieving progress will always seem an elusive goal.
George Rodman, in his book, Mass Media in a Changing World, states synergy comes from a Greek word meaning “to work together,” and refers to “any combination of forces that result in a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.” Therefore, a group working together is a greater force for good than anyone working alone. As a church, a married couple, a family, etc., we may find we get more accomplished when we work together in unity. I personally think Paul was hoping we would pay attention to the sequence of his words. Unless we become laborers together, God doesn’t enter the sentence!
In Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley penned, “Battles are won by teams working together, not by heroic individuals fighting on their own.” Some of us may need to get over our arrogance in order to see God at work around us. No one is all that important. God created Adam and said His creation was good. However, it was the aspect of Adam being alone that caused God to reverse His opinion and conclude it isn’t good for man to be alone. If we can just learn to work together, God will show up! At least that’s what I recently discovered reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.