Ingredients of Cooperation
I delivered this lesson on Sunday. I believe that some of the thoughts are important for us to consider in a brief way in this bulletin. Cooperation is one of those words from which platitudes are formed. We might even get the idea that cooperation is a nice addition in our families, businesses or the church. We like it but do not see it as essential. In fact, we are sometimes uncooperative. Webster defines cooperation as, “willingly acting or working together for a common purpose or benefit.” God has made cooperation one of the cardinal characteristics of Christianity and of his church. Please read 1 Cor. 12:13-28 and Eph. 4:14 again. Now, think about the ‘body,’ or body. The human body (and an animal’s body) is one of the most cooperative organisms in existence. The coordination of the body in both chosen and automatic responses is phenomenal. Without giving it serious thought, we walk, talk, run, bend, squat, throw, etc. Think of the cooperation that every part of our body has in supporting every other part of the body in every action. God has called his church a body. He intends us to be cooperative. I have selected five ingredients of cooperation from our two texts.
The first ingredient is unity. Our body is perfectly unified. Barring injury or disease, every muscle, nerve and bone in the body works in harmony. I do not have to think about coordination in walking. When my mind (the head) decides to walk everything happens together. My legs, arms and body all work in complete harmony. Consider the statement in Acts 2:42: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45: And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46: And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart…” This describes the unity that the spiritual body could have and should have.
Another ingredient of cooperation is ‘similar purpose.’ Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). We are to walk as he walked (Gal. 2:20). Being of “like precious faith” (2 Pet. 1:1), every member of the church ought to have the same goal. In Eph. 4:12, God expresses that our goals should be the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ.
A third ingredient of cooperation is the urge to protect. You have no doubt noticed that when you stub your toe or burn you hand, your whole body reacts to lessen the consequences. If you see something coming at you unexpectedly, you whole body moves or ducks or tries to cover up. When the body is working correctly, every part has the urge to protect every other part. We should naturally protect ourselves spiritually (Gal. 6:1-2). We will help each other emotionally (1 Cor. 12:23-26; Heb. 10:32-33). We also protect each other physically (1 Jn. 3:17).
A fourth ingredient of cooperation found in our text is ‘a sense of need.’ That is, every part is acutely aware of the need of every other part. My little finger may not do what my arm does, but I do not want to give up a finger (and won’t without a fight). In the body of Christ, every member is needed and should receive the sense of need from every other member. We should be “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies (Eph. 4:14).
Yet another ingredient of cooperation is ‘coordination of action.’ Not everyone can do the same work. Together, we can accomplish far more than we do. Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7). Let us not be jealous, disgruntled or lazy holdouts in the work of the Lord. Our work and prayers ‘together’ will accomplish a great deal for the Lord.