I love musicals. The duets are usually my favorite, and this is certainly true of the musical Wicked. In the song “Defying Gravity,” the female leads share the following exchange:
Think of what we could do, together
Together we’re unlimited
Together we’ll be the greatest team
There’s ever been
Dreams the way we planned them
If we work in tandem
I am quite of fond of that phrase, in tandem. My mind automatically goes to these lyrics when I hear it, which unfortunately is not often. “In tandem” simply means alongside or in conjunction with each other.
Remember the phrase of the day for a few minutes while I tell you a little about my summer. I teach high school during the school year. Specifically, I teach senior English. In the middle of May, I shift from spending my days with eighteen year olds to spending my days with my children, who are currently six and four. While I enjoy the lazy summer mornings drinking coffee, there are days I am completely spent by the time the sun finally sets.
Children can be exasperating. You know what is best for them, and you share this with them, but sometimes they insist on trying it their way. They are Israel clamoring for a king, and you are God, finally relenting despite knowing the outcome. A few weeks ago after a particularly trying day at home with the kids I sat down that night and opened the Old Testament and read from I Samuel. Samuel’s sons had been serving as judges over Israel, but they did not walk in Samuel’s ways, and “turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:3).
Irritated with Samuel’s sons, the elders gather together and tell Samuel they want a king. Samuel prays about the matter. The Lord tells Samuel the people have not rejected him, but rather have rejected the Lord, “they have forsaken Me and served other gods . . . Now therefore, heed their voice, however you shall solemnly forewarn them and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them” (I Samuel 8:8-9).
I give many solemn forewarnings to my young children, usually to no avail. It is of some comfort to me that the Lord Himself understands this feeling. It occurs to me that among the Godhead, this is something unique to God, the frustration of parenting. What is one human experience Jesus never had? Becoming a parent. Jesus left Heaven to die on the cross, but while He was here He did incredibly important work. He established His church. He was also on a thirty-three year reconnaissance mission to learn all He could about being a human.
What’s the one thing God doesn’t know, the one way in which He cannot fully empathize with His creation? The answer, of course, is what it feels like to be human, to be hungry, to be tired, to be lonely, to be tempted. Together, their knowledge is complete.
I think the Godhead, in their infinite wisdom, recognize the power of collaborating, of working in tandem. Look at the institutions they established for humans, namely marriage and the church. Neither will thrive as a one-man show. God sees the tremendous benefit in pooling knowledge. It’s a testament to how greatly He values cooperation among His children. Whether in the context of marriage or the church, together, individuals become one, and they must learn to function as one, or their union will not survive.
If God, who commands the oceans, and Jesus, who rose from the grave, work in tandem on our behalf, how foolish we must seem when we attempt to do alone what was designed to flourish only when Christians pool their strengths. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are not people to keep at arm’s length. You are part of the church Christ gave up equality with God to come and establish and the church whose members He died to save. Love each other, help each other, and work together as if you were knitted together by the invisible chains that held Christ to the cross. Christ could have called ten thousand angels, as we so often sing, but He didn’t. He remained suspended on the cross because He loves us, and because of the promise of Heaven. Work together in love as you were designed to do. Work with the people He bled and died for so that you might all one day witness the promise of Heaven.