When God created man, He observed, “It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18a).” So God ordained the family and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply.
Later in the Scriptures, we find the observation: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; ESV)
When Jesus was on earth, sending out His disciples to teach, we read, “he sent them out two by two.” (Mark 6:7; cf. Luke 10:1) Even when it came time to preach to the Gentiles, still he sent out more than one, telling the church in Antioch, ““Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them (Acts 13:2b; ESV).” Nor did Barnabas and Saul travel alone, they took others with them also.
Later, regarding the work of the church, we are instructed, “rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15-16; ESV).”
From beginning to end, one of the messages God keeps trying to send His people is that it is not good for us to be alone, we are more productive together, and stronger together. This is true of the family, it is true in friendships and in business, and it is true in the Lord’s church. But like so many truths that God tries to teach us, the lesson that we are stronger together is one that is frequently ignored.
Sometimes, in pride, individuals feel like they are going to be better if they go it alone. We tell ourselves that we don’t need others, or that others just won’t live up to our standards, or else that others will just end up hurting us. While it is true that those close to you can hurt you, and people do sometimes fail to give us their best, it is never true that we are going to ultimately be better off alone. A man without family or friends is a sad and lonely man. A business with only one worker is never going to grow. Likewise, a church where only one person is working is a stagnate, unproductive church.
Because of this truth, we are stronger together, it behooves us to listen to some of the other admonitions of the Lord, so as to strengthen our relationships. God tells us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18; ESV).” He gives advice to husbands and wives and even children about how to make the family work more smoothly (cf. Ephesians 5:22 – 6:4). He encourages Christians, saying, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ Galatians 6:2; ESV).” And dare we forget the Lord’s great commandment, “love one another, just as I have loved you (John 13:34b).”
Over and over again, God teaches principles which strengthen relationships and encourages cooperation. He urges us to build bridges to one another, rather than seeking out those things which divide us.
The mission of Christ was one of reunification – bringing man back into a right relationship with God, as well as bringing men back into a proper relationship with one another (cf. Ephesians 2:11-21). Wherever we find men at war with one another, somewhere we know that wickedness is at work (cf. James 3:16).
The truth is, we need each other, and we most certainly need God. We are never stronger on our own.
As we look around our communities, our families, and as we seek to work in the Lord’s church, let us always remember this truth and act accordingly.
The members of the church of Christ know that we would be stronger with you, and we invite you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any question you would like answered or addressed, please share them with us.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.