“There’s no I in team.”
“No man is an island.”
We’ve heard the sayings used by motivational speakers, coaches and other leaders. Working together nets the best results in business – and in life.
Humanity yearns for companionship. A person in isolation shrivels emotionally. This is why Jesus invites us to lean on Him and why he organized believers into a community called “the church.”
In American society, we could be misleading our young people by encouraging them to be independent. Independence is fertile soil for pride and disconnection. Most societies in the world, as well as the Word of God, stress interdependence as a measure of true success.
Independence is vital in some aspects of life. Living in tandem with others is essential. From the beginning, God saw it wasn’t “good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
We must learn to put aside the self-centered nature that presses us to “stand on our own two feet.” God intends for mankind to lean on Christ and other believers in order to successfully navigate the obstacle course of life.
Christ as a Leaning Post
One of the most beautiful illustrations of the human need to trust and rely on Jesus Christ is found in John Chapter 15.
As the Lord walks to the garden of Gethsemane with his eleven apostles, they pass through a vineyard. Being the master teacher, Jesus takes the opportunity to use the vines to exposit a spiritual truth.
“I am the true vine…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me…for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 1, 4, 5).
It is clear from this passage (read the whole thing verses 1-8 to get the most accurate context) that believers have no chance of succeeding without depending on Jesus.
Let’s consider the grapevine for a moment. How are the branches (this is where the clusters of fruit grow) dependent on the vine (the thick trunk that is rooted in the ground)?
Plants take water from the soil. Without water, plants have no means to photosynthesize the sun’s energy. Photosynthesis is how the plant gets the nutrients it needs to feed itself and produce flowers and fruit.
It you want to learn more about this process, click here. It’s a general scientific truth that plants are producers and manufacture their own food. However, if you put them in a dark room and don’t give them any water, they won’t last long.
It’s the same with us. We need to be connected to Jesus. The closer the connection the better for our spiritual well-being. “Abide” indicates a steadfastness that proclaims dependence loud and clear.
Without leaning on Christ, we will fail to produce fruit for his kingdom.
Church as a Community of Leaners
Jesus called out disciples. He organized them into a group and taught them the doctrines they needed to perpetuate his kingdom. Jesus left his “called out assembly of scripturally baptized believers” a mission and the power and authority to accomplish it (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
He didn’t do all that for himself. The church is for us. It belongs to Him, true, but it ministers to believers and reaches out to unbelievers. When it functions correctly, it brings glory to God (Matthew 5:14-16).
One of the most misrepresented passages of scripture in the Bible teaches this principle of joining a community of believers to offer and accept support.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Who hasn’t heard a sermon claiming Hebrews 10:25 was a command to attend church regularly? Okay, the three of you with raised hands – good for your pastors and teachers.
Unfortunately, that sort of teaching is taking the verse beyond what is written in the text. These verses say:
- Get saved
- Once you’re saved, don’t let anyone tell you you’re lost
- Why not? Because God promised eternal life and His word is to be trusted above that of any man
- Consider other believers
- Encourage (provoke) other believers to love and to good works
- The best way to accomplish this? Assemble together (see the definition of church provided above)
- What should you be doing in church? Exhorting (encouraging) your brothers and sisters
- Time for Christ’s return is closer every day and the need for this assembling and encouraging is “so much the more” relevant in these troubled times
Does this sound like God wants you to be The Lone Ranger? Not hardly. He knows the best way for us to succeed in serving him is to walk in tandem with other like-minded believers.
The first church in Jerusalem was hugely successful. They had “all things common” (Acts 2:44). That sounds like interdependence to these ears.
We don’t need to live in a commune to follow God’s plan. We do need to find other believers to hang out with, though. While we’re together, we shouldn’t be knitting or talking sports. We should be loving each other and working together to share the Gospel.
One reason this topic is at the forefront of my mind is because it is the central theme of the presentation my husband build for the first retreat for couples hosted by our church. Check out this blog to learn more about it – as early as next Tuesday.
Up next: Reflections from the Couples’ Retreat
Do you have trouble leaning on others? Are certain people harder to rely on? Who and why? Do you think leaning on Jesus is enough or do believers need other believers to lean on?