Two Are Better Than One

Working Together

by Scott Morris

I am not afraid to ask for help. This is not because I can’t make a decision—I make countless important decisions every day. But as the book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil” (4:9). This verse appears in a passage that acknowledges that work is hard. That’s why two are better than one! We hold each other up. We do not shoulder our callings and responsibilities alone.

We don’t have to look long before we find this truth sprinkled on the pages of the Gospels and the book of Acts. Notice the familiar pairs among the original twelve disciples: Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Nathanael. Jesus called them in pairs, and together they entered a new life of learning from the rabbi. Together, they took on Jesus’ work.

Together is a consistent image in the early church, and we do well to embrace it.

One of my favorite passages about the gospel’s call to healing ministry is when Jesus sends out 70 pairs of followers on a mission. Previously he had sent out the 12 disciples. The instructions are similar in both endeavors, and the mission includes “cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9).

Luke tells us that Jesus sent these followers “on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (10:1). Jesus didn’t ask his followers to do what he didn’t want to do, but to join him in his work by preparing the way for him and experiencing for themselves what would result—curing all sorts of diseases.

This did not mean the work would be rosy or without challenge. Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10 acknowledged that not everyone would welcome the disciples. In fact, Jesus said, “I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” When we think about that image, we realize the impossible survival odds! Perhaps this is one of the reasons Jesus chose not to send his followers out alone. One alone might cower and run, while two will hold each other up.

The heart of these early gospel partnerships is the kingdom of God. Healing miracles point to the wholeness God desires for every person. We could argue that these pairs of disciples were the earliest health ministry partnerships.

Together is a consistent image in the early church, and we do well to embrace it.

The book of Acts reminds us that this pattern of partnership in God’s work continued in the early church. Once again the pages of history are full of pairs or groups who worked earnestly for God’s kingdom: Peter and John; Paul and Barnabas; Paul and Silas; Barnabas and Mark; Priscilla and Aquila—and Apollos; Timothy and Erastus; Paul, Silvanus and Timothy; Paul and Timothy; Silas and Timothy. Luke doesn’t name himself, but many passages using the words we and us indicate his presence alongside Paul and others. Paul’s letters are full of gratitude for people he calls “fellow laborers.” Sometimes the ministry teams rearranged themselves and redistributed the work and travel, but still they labored together in the cause of God’s kingdom. And the book of Acts brims over with healing miracles. Where the kingdom of God is, there is healing.

The gospel still calls us to the cause of God’s kingdom, and the kingdom is still revealed in our journeys toward health and wholeness. Whether a health ministry partnership is two people holding each other up in their shared congregation or multiple agencies with an ambitious joint agenda, we are not meant to be alone in health ministry any more than God wants us to be alone in life. Community brings health.

And let us follow Paul’s example and be grateful for those who labor alongside us, for we share in the privilege of doing God’s work.


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