Two heads are better than one.” This is an old saying and it generally rings true. It means that we can accomplish more with another person than we can accomplish by ourselves. It is a saying that speaks to the importance of collaboration. To collaborate means to co-labor. We are working alongside of someone else rather than doing everything by ourselves.
God is a God of collaboration. Creation itself can be thought of as a collaborative task. “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1). But how did God create? God the Spirit “was hovering over the waters…” (Genesis 1:2). We also believe that God the Son was involved. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
Just as the task of creation appears to be a collaborative effort, so too, Adam is given a co-laborer in the Garden. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). The word helper does not mean one who is less than. God is not supplying Adam with “a little helper” as a father who has a toddler hold the screwdriver so that the father can do the important work. Through the rest of the Old Testament, the word is one which most often refers to how God has come to the aid of the people who needed God’s help.
Collaboration is also seen as a component of wisdom. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). The book of Ecclesiastes presents much of life as consisting of vanity. However, there are a few things that the wise writer views as being intrinsically good. One of these appears to be collaboration. We read in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one…”
Before Jesus leaves, He tells the disciples that they will be given “another Helper” (John 14:16). The word can also be translated Advocate or Comforter. The Holy Spirit will come as “another Helper.” We can imply a few things from this. First, Jesus was a helper to the disciples. Thus, when He is no longer physically present, they will have another Helper. Second, the disciples needed help. They were not going to be able to do it alone. We can think of disciples as co-laborers with Jesus and with the Spirit in the mission of God.
Finally, consider the work of Paul. Paul takes good news to the Gentiles, and he collaborates with others in doing so. We don’t have space to list all of Paul’s co-laborers, but consider that in Romans 16 he lists around 35 names of people who are collaborating in the gospel! And there are many others are who not named.
You cannot be a follower of Jesus without help from others. Being a disciple is a collaborative task. It is work. It is labor. But it is not labor that we can do without the help of God and others. A faithful life requires intentional collaboration.