Leadership, Living On Purpose

The Power of Together

Two are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

My kids know and believe this principle. The moment I ask one of them to do something, they immediately recruit their brother or sister to help. And by recruit, I mean manipulate.

It goes something like this:

“David, will you clean the bathrooms this morning?”

“Yep.” And then he turns to his brother who has just woken up and is stumbling into the kitchen. “Mom wants us to clean the bathrooms. I’ll take out the trash and you clean the toilets.”

No one has to teach them that. They instinctively know that cleaning the bathrooms would go faster and easier if someone else was sharing the work.

As we get older, it’s easy to forget about the power of unity as we experience how difficult it can be to work with others.

In Genesis 11, the people gather together and come up with a plan to bridge the gap between heaven and earth by building a tower. God looks at what’s happening and remarks, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

God confuses their language and the plan comes to nothing.

Fast forward to the birth of God’s church in Acts 2 and something very different takes place:

On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.  Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee,  and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!  Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia,  Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

In Genesis, God destroyed unity in order to keep the people from accomplishing what they wanted to. But in Acts, the Holy Spirit brought unity to those who were gathered together to seek God. In the following days, great power was demonstrated through the group of people who become known as the church.

Lives were healed. Destinies restored. Brokenness became a platform for grace. And the glory of God was put on display.

Unity brings clarity, creates momentum, and magnifies the contribution of each individual involved.

It’s the difference between a single basketball player with incredible skills and an unstoppable team who knows how to lean on one another’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses. The individual player is fun to watch but the team is rise to your feet, shout at the top of your lungs, pump your fist in the air exciting.

The Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is to draw us out of isolation and into unity.

God is bringing people into our lives who will challenge us, speak life into our hearts, and call out the untapped potential within us. He’s opening doors that pride and selfishness cannot follow us through. Doors that require the Spirit of God to teach us how to walk, to listen, and to learn.

This morning I sat with my second son and we talked about the ways that we resist God’s plan of unity in our lives. We made a list of things that divide instead of bringing us together.

Failing to honor each other.

Talking about someone else’s personal business without their permission.

Assuming we know why someone is making the choices they’re making.

Not having the courage to bring our concerns to someone and have a conversation.

Trying to fix everyone else instead of looking at our own lives.

Holding onto offense instead of freely forgiving like God has forgiven us.

Casting other people in a negative light and justifying it because they’ve wounded us.

Looking to others for our sense of identity instead of finding it in Jesus.

Lack of talking with God about our concerns, hurts, and offenses.

I’m convinced that God desires to do great things through His church in the days to come. And I’m just as confident that it will require us to walk in greater unity than we’ve previously known.

An unstoppable team recognizes that the individuals are only successful when the team is successful, that the things that try to divide us are many, and that unity is hard work. But it is worth it. Every time.

May we be those who see what God is doing in His church and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts to draw us into a place of great unity. May we be part of seeing the glory of God put on display in an unprecedented way.