Are you a loner or a social butterfly? Would you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Most of us naturally lean one way or the other, but no matter how you characterize yourself, one thing is true: you were made for community.
From the beginning of humankind, people have been joining with others to accomplish more together than individuals could on their own. Think about the incredible Egyptian pyramids and the cooperation it took to build them.
Consider a community that is being threatened with floodwaters and how townsfolk work together to create a wall of sandbags to save the town. Even a sports team must work together to win; one player cannot do it alone. It’s no different with the Church of Jesus Christ – when individual members come together with a common purpose, they can change the world!
In the Beginning
Even God isn’t singular in His being; He is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of these has His own unique assignment in the Godhead: the Father sits on His throne and watches over us all, the Son gave Himself to redeem mankind back to the Father, and the Holy Spirit dwells in and with us giving us power to live for God.
The roles of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are crucially intertwined, and together they accomplish God’s purposes and plans. If God Himself works with others to help Him achieve His agenda, how much more do WE need each other to complete our Kingdom assignments?
Man’s First Act of Unity
Shortly after God created man in His image, people came together to make a name for themselves and to ensure that they were known throughout the earth. They wanted to reach heaven (and possibly reach God Himself) with their tall tower, but God saw the motives of their hearts and was not pleased.
In fact, Genesis 11:6 tells us: “the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them’”. God knew that when people came together unified in a single purpose, nothing could stop them. Clearly, group unity is a powerful thing.
Cooperation in the Early Church
After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples went to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit, the One promised by the Father. Acts 2:1 says, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord [together] in one place.” The disciples were not scattered here and there – they were together seeking God and waiting for the Promise. They were unified in heart and purpose.
God poured out His Spirit on those who were waiting for it, and the church was born. You can read the rest of the book of Acts to see how the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus’ followers to spread the gospel near and far. In fact, after Peter was filled with the Spirit, he stood up and preached a strong sermon that caused many people to repent and turn their lives over to God (Acts 2).
What did unity and teamwork accomplish in the early church? GROWTH! The end of Acts 2:46-47 says, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The Power of All
As you read about the early church in the book of Acts, you’ll find a few words used over and over again like “all,” “together,” and “one accord.” Because all of the people were united in purpose, prayer and passion, God was able to do great things: people were saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The gospel message was preached to many people, and God performed miracles through His people. Acts 4:31 says, “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
The early church developed this “power of all” by eating together, praying together, giving to those in need, and serving Jesus together. They were even filled with boldness to preach.
Throughout the New Testament, the Apostle Paul often urged the churches to be unified, to serve and love one another, and to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). He understood the power of all the people having the same purpose, even though each person may play a different role in that purpose.
If the early church had not been strong in unity and purpose, the church wouldn’t have made it past infancy. But early believers knew that they were stronger together: “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
The Kingdom of God is no place for a single super star. God needs each of us to function in His Body (the church) with our specific gifts and talents alongside others who are doing the same so that together, His Kingdom is advanced and more people come to know Him.
We are definitely stronger together and can accomplish more when we work as a team. One African proverb says it like this: “If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to go far, travel together.”
~ Jennell Houts
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