Many Hands Make Light Work
There may be some tasks we’d prefer to do on our own (or with fewer people), because it can be done quicker and better. However, there are (many, dare I say?) times when ‘many hands make light work’. I experienced the truth of that earlier this summer during our district church Family Camp. Previous years I remember the kitchen work and the clean up at the end of Camp taking much longer. In contrast, this year it seemed like more people chipped in. Usually Camp ends Monday after brunch with a clean up and shut down of Camp. Well this year people began cleaning up equipment Sunday night already, which meant not that much had to be done on Monday after brunch. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same too elsewhere. People coming together and getting a job done. You were dreading the load beforehand, but were surprised after the experience at how well things went because help was aplenty!
What is the spiritual truth we can learn from this? I believe God created us to do life together with others. This is evident in the fact he created Adam AND Eve. Our experience as humans tends to be that we flourish when we are integrated into a community of love. The opposite is equally true; We tend to suffer our greatest, and descend into despair, when we isolate ourselves from community. One of the images in the New Testament of the church is the Family of God. Ephesians 2:19 says,” Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” And we know as the Family of God we don’t simply exist for ourselves. Jesus told his disciples that he was sending them out on mission as the Father sent him (John 20:21). As such we need to consider ourselves as Family On Mission.
Two biblical characters will illustrate for us the power and need for living as Family on Mission. Exhibit A is the prophet Elijah. He had a powerful ministry and did major miracles. But we get the sense from the narratives of his life that he liked doing things alone. With the knowledge that there were other prophets he could join forces with (1 Kings 18:13), he continues to operate as a lone ranger (1 Kings 18:22; 19:10, 14). And where does that get him? In a deep depression where he asks God to end his life (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah’s despair could have been better managed by the care and support of others. When we isolate ourselves we remove the safeguards of community that can help us process things when we are too emotional and volatile to think straight and act rationally.
Our example of one who lived his life in community and did ministry with others in a Family On Mission is Jesus. He also had his experiences of great sorrow, but those were always shared in community. The ultimate example of anguish for Jesus was that final evening in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what he was facing. No doubt he was tempted to isolate himself in “that hour” and go to the Garden alone, leaving his disciples in the upper room where they just finished eating the Last Supper. However, he knew the way his Father had created us. To do life together. To rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. And so instead he took his disciples with him. No doubt they ended up being a moral support in this dark hour.
What about you? Are you connected to a Family on Mission? Are you advancing the Kingdom shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have you isolated yourself and you are feeling the effects of living outside community? God desires to use you in mighty ways in the context of community. God’s prescribed way of fulfilling the Great Commission is by ‘many hands making light work’, which will include those hands lifting you up when things are tough.