The Qoheleth (teacher or preacher) in the book of Ecclesiastes has a wise saying: “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” (Ecc. 4:9-12). Indeed, no person is called to isolate him/herself.
A wise Christian pursues collaborative or cooperative work. An imprudent Christian pursues self-reliance. The prudent journeys with other Christians; the foolish treks the path alone. The former character portrays the biblical image of the calling of a Christian to be with others—the community, the local church. While the latter describes the postmodern cultural identity of individualism.
Working together as a church is fulfilling and edifying; as we said, it is “better together.” The “other” [person] stated is not a competitor but rather, the “other” is a friend. In a word, togetherness is a must.
We are reminded by German Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when he was imprisoned, Bonhoeffer recalls the importance of being part of and active in the community of Christ. A Christian carries others because humanity’s community is weak, imperfect, and powerless. By bearing one another through-and-in Christ, freedom, comfort, peace, genuine love, support, and healing come to be possible.
Moreover, in the passage stated above, the “reward” is not something materialistic nor something that will be given in the future. The “reward” is the “other” person who shares the journey with you. The one who sojourns with you. The one who is there for you.
Christologically, Jesus is with us (union)—He is the Immanuel— the embodiment of togetherness. Speaking about the Church, we are “with” each one. We are the visible sign of genuine “togetherness.” We are the threefold cord that goes together, grows together, and gives glory to God together. As Bonhoeffer says, “It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”* Do not take this for granted.
* Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Spiritual Care, translated by Jay C. Rochelle (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 20.
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