What then is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9
A year ago I had written a post intended to be the first of what I planned to be a two-part series on barriers to Kingdom collaboration in serving people in need, especially friends experiencing homelessness. The first barrier I mentioned was a misunderstanding of who the real enemy is as we pursue our work and how we view others who don’t approach the challenge in the same way as us. The second barrier is an over-inflated understanding of our own importance, what some people would call a messiah complex.
As I encounter different people seeking to serve friends experiencing homelessness, I’m surprised how many people will tell me God has told them they are going to have a national ministry based on what they are starting here in Indianapolis. What’s less surprising is how often the same people have lost interest or have encountered crisis within a few months and have given up. When this happens, I have to wonder if the ministry they started was Christ-centered or self-centered.
I’ve also encountered people who seem obsessed with knowing who’s in charge before discussing working together on an issue. I can understand this to some extent when dealing with theological issues and wanting to make sure we’re not joining with people who are endorsing a false teaching about core issues of faith. When people seek true Kingdon collaboration, though, there is no hierarchical command system. We all submit our personal identities under the supremacy of Christ. He alone determines the reward we receive for our work.
Paul and the other early followers of Christ understood this. They recognized they were all co-laborers in God’s kingdom. Their identity was not as critical as the identity of Christ. If we are ever going to see Kingdom collaboration in our work and in our context, we need to take the same attitude of putting the Kingdom of Christ above our own kingdoms.