Ecclesiastes 4:12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
This Verse is most commonly used in marriage ceremonies … the couple representing the two cords, and the third cord representing the Lord. It certainly applies nicely there, but it is not confined to only marriage. The cord of three strands is not easily broken and could apply to partnerships in business, in ministry, or in any situation where people are coming together to accomplish something. We have seen how partnerships can be so productive throughout the business world, and in recent decades we have also seen how the church is utilizing more partnerships in its ministries. I remember a day when leaders in the church had to go on their own and were wearing many hats for the congregation. Today, we have learned to outsource to others who have expertise in areas that can come alongside the church and be an extension of their ministry work.
I have known and worked with people who were known as, ‘a jack of all trades.’ Most of those people were of a generation that had to learn how to do many things due to a lack of partnerships in their day. They were people who could electrically wire a house, fix a car, or repair electronic devices. Today, each of those skills is done by specialized people trained to focus on one craft and not on many crafts.
The idea of partnership goes beyond just the working world … it is a principle of God's creation. God made people to be in relationship with each other, similar to how the body is put together with various organs to function to sustain life. There isn't a part of our bodies that are not necessary. It is a partnership of sorts that relies on other parts of the body to function. All parts need each other to operate at full capacity as human beings. The Apostle Paul used this illustration when he said:
1 Corinthians 12:21 “The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
Partnerships bring the same principle into focus. The church needs ministry organizations that do specific work to bring the Gospel into play. People who work to provide a pro-life message to our day of ‘abortion rights society’ are necessary and essential to making the case that all people matter, even those who cannot speak for themselves. Hunger relief agencies are critical to care for those who are marginalized or are suffering from a disaster. We need people in law firms who are legitimate ministries that protect our freedom of religion and argue for it in the highest courts in the land. We need organizations that are sending agencies and helping missionaries get into countries where the Gospel is needed to infiltrate foreign cultures. We need ministries that go into prisons to assist in the rehabilitation of inmates through faith and the discipleship of character building. The list is endless of all the partnerships that are in the Christian world today, that are specifically addressing the challenges society and culture are facing today. Even though most of these organizations are not a part of our church, they are the partners we need to do what we cannot.
Some pastors in the past, and probably some today, feel threatened by these partners. They have felt used at times when one of these partners comes looking for both financial and people resources to do their work, and our churches become a target for recruiting for them. In recent years, I think most churches have been trained to think outside of the four walls of their church to see how the Kingdom of God is working together to make a difference in our world. That must be our mindset … to see how we are a tapestry of various gifts and callings that God has put together to make His name known throughout the world. It is this mindset that demonstrates the three-cord strand illustration … we are much stronger together than we are alone. The work of God is a partnership among many, to tell one story … His story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My reason for bringing this theme today is to remind us that it takes all believers in Jesus Christ to make our contribution to His Kingdom. No one is less important than another, as with our bodies, there are no parts that are not essential. So, wherever you are today in your faith, do not despair because you may not be a major player in ministry, but you are essential. Remember, some plant, some water, but the increase is up to the Lord. If you are planting or watering to whatever degree you can, you are essential to the growth of His kingdom. Not all body parts can be the heart, but you may be a red blood cell, critical to feeding the body, and the heart could not exist without these cells.
Remember it takes all of us in partnership with each other to build His Kingdom. That is the way God designed it.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler
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