By Dario Martini
The work of God and the church is carried out in partnerships and teams of workers and never by a man alone. If we want to be useful for God and His cause, we need to learn to work firstly in union and partnership with the Lord and then and only then in partnership and within teams through other divinely orchestrated connections. We learn to recognize the importance of each individual with their unique gifting and abilities with mutual respect, honor, love and dependence toward one another, as to how the Holy Spirit chooses to move.
A carpenter once created a strange assembly that hit differences with real penetration.
A hammer held the position of president but the participants notified him that he would have to resign. The cause? He made too much noise and besides, he spent all his time pounding.
The hammer accepted his guilt but asked that the nail be ejected also, saying that it took too many poundings for the nail to achieve anything. The nail agreed but on the condition that the sandpaper was excluded. He said she was too rough in dealing with others; always getting into friction. The sandpaper accepted on the condition that the measuring tape that always mediates the others according to its’ own measure, as if it were the only perfect one, was also expelled.
At that moment the carpenter came in, gathered the material and the tools and began his work. He made use of the hammer, sandpaper, measuring tape and nails. Finally, the rough wood became a fine piece of bespoke furniture. When the carpenter was alone again, they all re-discussed the issue. It was then that the hacksaw took the floor and said, “ladies and gentlemen, it has been shown that we all have defects, but the carpenter, does not work with our defects, no, he only taps into our qualities and our strengths. So, I propose to abandon this discussion and focus on constructive tasks.” The proposal was accepted unanimously and all felt themselves to be part of a true team: capable of producing quality workmanship, united toward the same purpose and all this, safely in the hands and mind of the Master carpenter.
God usually do not sends someone alone to do His work.
In chapter 13 of Acts 1: 3 we learn the principle of plurality in the work of God:
As we know, the church of Antioch was the model church for the Gentiles, because the church of Jerusalem, despite accepting the grace of God, still obeyed the Law of Moses. Antioch however, was taught to trust only in the grace of God, thus setting the new covenant church standard for the Gentile world.
In these verses we see that the ministry in the church was plural. This became standard in all churches not only in the church, but also in its’ work or ministry. For the Holy Spirit did not call Barnabas or Saul but Barnabas and Saul together, to complete the work for which they had been called.
God usually do not sends someone alone to do His work. God’s work is mostly performed in partnerships and the church of God is mostly led by a team, who work together in one accord. For like as in carpentry, a tool cannot do all the necessary work alone. Each tool using its’ own unique skill, collectively working together to complete the task.
This week we performed the baptism of Nicole on the beautiful coast of Sorrento. She is a young Italian, very intelligent and dynamic. She came to one of our conferences just because it was Mother’s Day and her mother Rita had not long ago converted to the Lord. She told her mother that it would be the only time she would come to a meeting with her. However that morning Luca, my son, who is young like her, was the one who brought the Word and she was touched by his life and testimony and ended up giving herself to the Lord. It was Luca who baptised her because this was Nicole’s wish. Luca being young and full of the Holy Spirit, easily attracts other young people, as well as those of all ages and stages in their lives to the Lord.
God uses different instruments for different tasks. He teaches us the importance of being a team player and to recognize the anointing and the ability that He has given to each one of us.
As poet Robert Frost put it, “The best things and the best people are born of difference. I am against a homogeneous society because I want the cream to rise “
The Holy Spirit used a relatively small team.
One thing I admire is the fact that the Holy Spirit used a relatively small team to bring the knowledge of truth to the Roman Empire. Paul and his team were not many, but they were a committed, well prepared and skilled team in the work of God.
In the letter to Philemon, Paul describes the three levels of relationship in cooperation he held in his ministerial team. He first declares that Philemon was a fellow in the works. What a level of cooperation means, is that they worked together in the work of God; we all need to cooperate with each other in this work.
He then declares that Archippus was a companion in the fights. This is another level of cooperation in the work. We engage in each other’s struggles; we fight together, we pray together and we go to war together. How we need people who are partners in our struggles.
And finally, he declares that Epaphras was a fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus. This is an even greater level of cooperation; when we unite in our trials and adversities. Paul is in prison because of his dedication to the Gospel and Epaphras left his comfortable position in Colossae and went to Rome, making himself a prisoner along with Paul. What a wonderful cooperation in the ministry. How we need Epaphras with us; those who join us in our difficulties; fellow prisoners of love in Christ Jesus.
This team so engaged and committed to God, His cause and with each other, were able to turn the world upside down. May God give us this team census. May we recognize the need we have for each other. May we recognize that the Holy Spirit engages us in partnership and team work and not just individual efforts. For in this kind of unity, by and with the Holy Spirit, we can and will bring our generation to the feet of the Lord.