Common Cause: A Call to Collaboration
In Ephesians 4:15-16, Paul reminds us that we are to grow into maturity as one body of believers, united in the common cause of Christ: “We will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
The last part of this scripture has always been an admonishment, and an encouragement to me. It tells us that the body of Christ should be whole, joined and held together. It tells us that the body of Christ should become stronger through loving interaction. It tells us that we should all play our unique role in the collective efforts of the body of Christ.
How sad it is that our overall behavior as Christians can be so off the mark. Far too often, we Christians describe ourselves as the united Body of Christ, but behave as the divided Body of Christ. We are divided by denomination, by church home, by region. Sometimes we view each other more as competitors than collaborators. We are even prone to forgetting the importance of communicating with each other on spiritual topics!
Does it sound like I’m exaggerating? Think about it for a minute. How effective are the churches in your community at coming together for common projects? How many ministries do you know that look for ways to share resources between each other rather than insisting on independent initiative? Do you check into the spiritual orientations of your colleagues on the job, and seek out ways to team up for workplace ministry?
In my role as a marketplace minister, I have become convicted to go out of my way to help make these things happen. I think of myself as a “bridge builder” between Christians, and Christian communities, that might normally remain disconnected. Are there ways you can help different church communities work on ministry projects together? Are there ways you can help Christian charities share resources? Are the ways you can connect the community of Christians in your workplace?
Some of you may have grown weary of pursuing collaboration, because it doesn’t always work out. Believe me, I understand. I’ve found that despite best efforts, there are sometimes individuals and ministries that just aren’t a good fit for collaboration. Perhaps like you, I’ve had to work hard on discernment to see where collaboration is possible, and simply celebrate “unity in Christ, diversity in approach” for everything else.
As you consider all this, be encouraged by Paul’s words in Ephesians. Remember that as we labor to do more together than we could ever do apart, we grow in spiritual relationship, spiritual maturity, and spiritual impact. In all things, we truly do “grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”