What a blessing to be a part of a congregation of believers, a close-knit family of God, made up of brothers and sisters in Christ! Solomon’s words about companionship, found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, are appropriate here.
We All Contribute Toward a Common Goal
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
Solomon says that it is more fruitful to work with a business partner, because the two can share insight, expertise, and encouragement. A family can accomplish more than a single person, and can make the rent and grocery budget stretch farther. Two horses hitched together can pull more together than the sum of the two horses pulling separately.
God designed the church to include many people with various talents, so that we will have bigger, more productive returns on our efforts. One person cannot do all the preaching, teach every age group, save the lost, vacuum the carpets, encourage the children, finance the work, lead the singing, repair the broken faucets, serve the Lord’s Supper, etc.
In a congregation, everyone works together in harmony. And everyone shares in the success of the whole.
We All Help Restore Fallen Members
For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
At a certain summer camp, children are warned to swim on the “buddy system.” Years earlier, a camper had died from jumping into the water and banging his head on a rock. Even though the water was only waist deep, there was no one to pull him to shore and prevent him from drowning. It was a senseless loss that could have been easily prevented by just one onlooker.
Each and every Christian stumbles from time to time. But the fall can be permanent if he lacks another concerned person to lift him up. Proverbs 17:17 says, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Therefore, let us take to heart Galatians 6:1, “if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” And James 5:19-20, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
We All Share in Our Warmth
Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?
From time to time, in the winter, a New England newspaper will report of a little boy who got lost in freezing weather, and survived the night only because his loyal puppy curled up on top of him.
It’s hard to go it alone in this dark, cold, dangerous world, where temptation is around every corner and discouragement over every rise. It ought to be a warm feeling to come home to our brethren. God intends the church to be a place where the family of God can find strength and comfort.
In worship, we can “greet the friends by name” (2 John 15) upon entering the assembly, and can use the preaching and teaching to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).
Outside of worship, we can “take our meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46). And we can serve one another at all times, taking a cue from Dorcas, who “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36), making tunics and garments for the widows.
We All Share in Our Defense
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
Peter tells us that our “adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). In the wild, lions observe the flock from the high grass at the edge of the prairie, looking for weak or distracted stragglers who have wandered away from the group. They prefer isolated targets. Not even the king of the jungle will attack a tough knot of determined beasts, horns facing outward and ready to defend each other.
The church must stand together in defense as well. In Phil. 1:12, Paul wanted to hear that the Christians in Philippi were “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, in no way alarmed by your opponents.”
Like a braided rope, all the fibers must be bound in unity. “I exhort you, brethren … that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). —John Guzzetta