Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
Cooperation is the name of the game. Sit still for just a second and I will explain the rules. We work together, hand in hand, to accomplish one end goal that we are all pleased with. You could call this compromise, but not when we are talking about the church. You see, we all have the same goal. When our eyes are taken off the prize of getting to Jesus and taking as many people with us as possible, we have problems. When we are more concerned about anything else (I’m sure you won’t have any problem filling in that blank!) we cannot cooperate. I will be going one way and you another. What needs to happen at that point? I put myself in 4 wheel drive mode and run over you to get to my goal. Right? NO!!! I take you by the hand and say something like “We need each other! Let’s work it out!” Then we begin to pray for God to change our hearts so we can continue to serve as the collective Body of Christ.
There is simply no good reason our churches cannot work together. I realize MANY reasons exist. They just aren’t good enough to keep to Christ-centered, holy minded Christians from coming together to accomplish our shared goal of enlarging the Kingdom and bringing it home.
Listen to this: when we cooperate at the most basic levels we will cooperate in the more complicated relationships we have. However, when we refuse to cooperate with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will see ourselves at war with every person, group, or institution that disagrees with us. We cannot afford to put ourselves in this position, yet this is exactly where we find ourselves today.
We see the results in every arena. Don’t believe me? Take a drive down to our local youth athletic fields and watch a game. Some parents are just happy their kids are on the field. It’s just a game, right? Last time I checked Topps wasn’t trying to print their faces on a card! But you’d think they were next in line to be drafted judging by the attitudes and comments coming from some of the parents. It’s ridiculous but it happens right here in south Arkansas. That’s the absence of a cooperative spirit. If our churches can’t get along, why should parents and coaches on a 10 year old sports team?
Want another example? How about the way our police officers are treated? The majority of the trash talk is coming from young minds and mouths. Where do they learn that? Why would they think that the police are out to get them? Because that’s what they’ve heard. They haven’t witnessed it. We have some of the finest police officers in the country right here in southern Arkansas. These guys are selflessly serving our communities; keeping the peace in our backyards. But instead of hearing praise for them, our children hear their parents say “Here come the cops! Buckle your seatbelt! Be quiet or they’ll take you away! Those guys arrested my _______ (cousin, friend, neighbor…when you know good and well those people deserved to be arrested) and they’ll get you, too, if you don’t straighten up!” Parents give our kids the impression that the police are a force out to get them, instead of a dedicated bunch of men and women out to protect them.
What should we do? As you’ve probably guessed by now, I believe the issue is deeper than telling our kids the cops are good guys. We can certainly start there! However, in order to see real, lasting change we must begin to embrace cooperation on a much deeper level. While you and I both know we can never cooperate with evil, there are many entities in our society that are not evil personified. Many of the people, groups, or institutions that we avoid are working towards the same or very similar goals as us. Here’s the word: Be Aware Christians! If we are truly going to model Christ and not just talk about it, we must take steps towards more cooperation and less hate; more working together and less distance; more grace and less judgment. This begins in the church, has implications for the field and the police force, and certainly does not exempt the home. Will you stand with me? Here’s my hand. Let’s get something good done.