In 1970 a blues/rock group called Canned Heat released a song entitled, Let’s Work Together. It was a modest commercial success, rising only to #26 on the U.S. charts. However, the song struck a chord with many because of how deeply divided the country was at that time. Its lyrics called on people of all ages to put their differences aside and to work together because, as the song said, “together we stand, divided we fall”.
While it is unlikely that any of the band members realized it, the idea of working together is one of the most fundamental principles in scripture. The Lord referred to it when He was accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. The Lord responded to this charge in Mt. 12:25, saying, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
When Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus he also emphasized the importance of this principle. In Eph. 4:11-16 he said that the Lord had placed apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers into the church in order to equip the saints for the work of service. Then, he said that the purpose of this was so that, “the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (v. 16).
Therefore, it is imperative that Christians work together within the body in order to accomplish the Lord’s purpose. In 1 Cor. 12:12-26 Paul used the illustration of a human body to describe how each member of a local congregation plays an important part in the spiritual health and growth of that congregation. The bottom line is that we are all essential to the good of the church and we must all do our part to help the church be all that it is intended to be.
To accomplish this, we must each commit to four basic principles. First, we must be willing to submit to biblical authority. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Mt. 7:21). If we commit to doing whatever God’s word requires of us, we will work together with our fellow Christians to build up the church.
Second, we need to start living by the Golden Rule. In Mt. 7:12 Jesus said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This means being proactive in the exercise of our faith. If we do this, the church will be better because of it.
Third, we need to look out for the interests of others instead of only looking out for our own interests. In Phil. 2:3-7 Paul told the church in Philippi to have the same attitude as Christ in this regard. He went to the cross because He was looking out for our interests more than His own. If we focus on the needs of others, and they likewise focus on our needs, the church will be better off.
Finally, we need to be willing to personally do whatever the Lord requires for the good of His kingdom. Isaiah the prophet answered God’s call by saying, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). This should be our response as well. God has not called us to be spectators, but to be active participants in the work of His church. If we respond as Isaiah did, the church will be blessed by our actions.
The work of evangelizing and of edifying the saints is in our hands as the church. The church is “us”, not “them”. If we don’t do this work, it won’t get done. If all of us don’t do our part, it won’t happen. Therefore, let’s work together to get it done.