People can accomplish more when they work together than when they work alone. Even the most fiercely independent have to admit that they depend on the people who know how to do what they don't. Where did your clothes come from? Your computer? Your car? Your education? We, each of us, depend on others, and when we work in community we accomplish more than if we go it alone.
When a person attends a church, they, too are taking advantage of the power of cooperation. Music, decor, preaching, building, scriptures - you wouldn't have these if people who weren't you didn't help. Together, we accomplish something valuable and greater than ourselves.
This is true on an organizational level, too. Multiple organizations accomplish more together than they do alone. That's why Illumine is part of the WELS. It's why we partner with organizations like Project Hope. It's why we invited On Eagles Wings and about a dozen other organizations to be a part of our human trafficking seminar in March.
The greatest application of this cooperation principle, of course, comes in being saved. You could be fiercely independent about it, but you'd fail. You need Jesus, because he gives you victory over sin. In all honesty, it is a bit of a misnomer to call it a cooperation, because Jesus does all of the work and you receive the benefits. That's why it is crazy when we get it into our heads that Jesus' gift of salvation is only for me and him to know about. He puts us together in churches so that we who have been saved by his work and grace can remind each other, lift each other up, encourage each other, and learn from each other.
It's important that we remember - this is the purpose of the church. Connecting people to and through the gospel is the reason the church exists. When this stops being the goal, we're no longer organized. But when gospel connection is the goal...things can really get accomplished.
1 Corinthians 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
-Pastor Kent Reeder