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Teamwork

Biblical Text: 1 Corinthians 3:9

"For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."

In this life, there is no avoiding work. Work is the driving force behind a healthy economy and a comfortable lifestyle. Work is so important that in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul told the church that if anyone refused to work he should not eat. There just is not much of a return on being lazy.

Let me give you some background for today's sermon. The early Corinthian church was being threatened by Greek influence to follow or 'swear' loyalty to a favorite teacher. Paul and Apollos were the figureheads of the two parties. Some favored Paul, while others favored the teachings of Apollos. But Paul saw the danger in this distorted loyalty, so he stepped in to squelch or put an end to the rivalry.

Paul describes in poetic analogy the beauty of teamwork. "We''re like a couple of gardeners" he says. "Some plant, some water, but neither one of us has anything to do with the mystery of life. That's GOD'S work." Paul goes on to remind the church members that the one who plants and the one who waters are on the same team.

So today, I want to reflect for a few moments on TEAMWORK.

Famous coach Bear Bryant once said, "I'm just a plow hand from Arkansas, but I've learned how to hold a team together; how to lift some men up, how to calm down others, until finally they've got one heartbeat together, a team. My philosophy is this: If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then YOU did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you."

Bear Bryant didn't know it at the time, but his analogy summarized 1 Corinthians 3:9 - For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are collective God's building. It's a simple, straightforward verse of scripture. By the ninth verse of the third chapter of 1 Corinthians, most of Pauls poetic analogy has been stripped away, and we are left with three clear, concise points to ponder about teamwork.

Point Number One: With teamwork, we share the work. We are laborers together WITH God.Each one of us is called to a specific work, but none of us is able to accomplish that work without the other. Like branches of a tree that depend upon each other for sustenance, we bloom when we are 'connected'. We all draw from the same Source of strength, and the same nutrient at the Root - Jesus Christ. And Christ's lifeblood flows through our branches to feed every member of the team.

Even in nature's realm, God teaches us something about teamwork. Take the honeybee. On a warm day about half the honeybees in a hive stay inside beating their wings while the other half go out to gather pollen and nectar. Because of the beating wings, the temperature inside the hive is about 10 degrees cooler than outside. The bees rotate duties and the bees that cool the hive one day are honey-gatherers the next. That's teamwork.

Ants operate in much the same fashion. They split into teams and rotate the work in order to maintain their strength. That's why ants can pull far more than their weight.

Geese are another example of teamwork in nature. Geese fly in 'V' formation, creating an upward air current that reduces the amount of energy needed to fly. When the goose at the point gets tired, he falls back to 'rest' in the upward current, and another takes his place at the point.

Man is the only one of God''s living creatures that 'bucks' teamwork. He prefers to take full credit for his own achievements, rather than share in the glory with others. Our desire for self-recognition is part of our sin nature. But God's success plan for our lives, and for the building of the kingdom of God, revolves around teamwork. As laborers together with God, we play an important part in carrying out God's plan for mankind.

· God Himself established the value of teamwork in the beginning of Creation, when he said, "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper".

· Ruth knew the value of teamwork when she said to Naomi, "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God."

· King Solomon knew the value of teamwork when he told his son, "Iron sharpens iron; and one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)

· Paul knew the value of teamwork when he encouraged the early Christian church to be likeminded.

Teamwork gets the job done right. One person, working alone, will take longer, use less creativity, demonstrate less strength, and end up with an inferior result. But Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us that two is better than one, and three is better than two. In other words, when we work as a team, we get a better result.

Point Number Two: With teamwork, we share the responsibility. Our scripture verse says, "..ye are God's husbandry". Husbandry is just a fancy name for farmer. We're God's farmers. We have the awesome responsibility of cultivating the earth with a powerful Gospel message that will produce crop after crop of saved souls. We've been left with the spiritual science of how to accomplish this great work. The Bible gives us all the direction we need to achieve our goal. All we have to do is read it and follow the instructions.

We are God's seed planters:
· We plant the seed of invitation, saying "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

· We plant the seed of forgiveness, saying - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

· We plant the seed of brotherly love, saying - Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

We are God's ground management team, the head of His domestic affairs. All of God's resources are at our fingertips. All we have to do is be frugal with our time, thrifty with our talents, and careful with our conversation. That's the summary of our responsibility.

Point Number Three: With teamwork, we share in the success. "Ye are God's building." A building is a solid structure. It denotes permanence and longevity. It stands as a testament to hard work. It also stands as a shelter for those who participated in the work. For example: You work hard; you buy a house for your family; the house is a testament to your work, and a shelter or reward for your work.

We are the church, and we are God's building. Jesus promised us that, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". For more than 2,000 years, the church has stood as a testament of God's faithfulness to His promise and a shelter for those who are part of the team.

Like any building, the church is a structure. It has walls, and floors, and a ceiling. But the good bones of our church's EXTERIOR are not what help us prevail against Satan. It's what's IN the church that stands as a testament to the power of God. We are called to be the 'backbones' of God's church --- to carry the load and do the work of the Lord. We put our shoulder to the plow, while wish-bones watch, and jaw-bones talk, and knuckle bones knock. But we press on, because WE are the Church!

The message in 1 Corinthians 3:9 is clear. If we do not share in the labor and the responsibility, we cannot share in the success. That's one of the basic principles of life, and a foundational principle in the kingdom of God.

Teamwork, it's God's cord of strength.

Teamwork, it's what moves the Church of Jesus Christ forward.

Teamwork, it's what gets us through THIS life, to the NEXT!

We close every worship service with a benediction. A benediction is a blessing. There are many benedictions in the Bible, but I have a favorite. It's my favorite because it talks about teamwork. It reminds me that I am not alone in this kingdom-building work. It reminds me that I am only one small part of the big picture, and if I do my part, I will please God. This benediction comes from Romans 15:5 and 6. It reads: Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord is searching for team members.
He's looking for likeminded people.
He's looking for soul-seekers.
He's looking for seed planters.
There's no experience necessary.
His Holy Spirit will be your teacher.
Just come...come confessing your need for Christ.
Come and join Christ's team.
The pay may not be much, but the benefits are out of this world!

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