The Power of Partnership – II
Two more qualities make partnerships powerful. Once again, we learn what they are by exploring a few passages in the New Testament.
Partnerships are powerful when the partners are selfless servants. At the close of his letter to the Romans, Paul sends greetings to his friends Aquila and Priscilla—now back in Rome—and describes them as people “who risked their necks for [his] life…” (ROM 16.4) He greets the church that meets in their home—evidently a large one that can accommodate the congregation—and gives thanks for this remarkable couple on behalf of the Gentile churches they have influenced. He calls them his “fellow workers.” They are full partners in the “ministry of reconciliation,” comrades-at-arms in the trenches and foxholes of spiritual conflict.
Paul tells the Corinthians that while he was obliged to no one, he made himself a servant—a bond slave—to all. (1 COR 9.19) The only way to become a slave when one is free is to choose slavery—to go to the doorpost, as it were, and take the awl in the earlobe. And when one chooses to serve as a slave, one must by default be a slave to everyone. A slave is not like a high-powered law firm that can be selective about its clients.
The citation accompanying the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military honor bestowed by the United States, reads, in part: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…” Impressive. Now listen to what Paul says about Epaphroditus, a virtual unknown in the first century who has been immortalized by this description:
“I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honour such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” (PHI 2.25-30)
Sure sounds like a hero to me. Wouldn’t you love to have a guy like that on your team?
Partnerships are powerful when the partners are reliable contributors. Outline his travel plans to the Roman believers, Paul says he is counting on their support and help as he passes through Rome on his way to Spain. (ROM 15.24) This sounds presumptuous until we understand that Aquila and Priscilla are back in Rome, and Paul has no doubt he can count on them and on the people they have mentored.
He commends the Philippians for their financial help even though they could ill afford to support him, and tells them they will share in the rewards of what God has done through him. (PHI 4.14-20) One of them, a wealthy businesswoman named Lydia, had extended her generous hospitality to Paul and Silas the day she was baptized. (ACT 16.11-15)
Paul described Epaphroditus as his sunergon—his fellow worker, his synergist. He describes Aquila and Priscilla in the same way. But his greatest partner in ministry, and ours, is God Himself. In 2 COR 6.1, Paul tells us we are sunergountes—synergizing—with God.
What an amazing thing to be partners together with the Most High God in the greatest work in the history of the world!
Guest Blogger: Rob Heijermans, Biblical Ministries Worldwide