Does it really matter if Christians stick together?

Humans were designed for relationship, foremost with God, but also with other humans. God expresses this at the creation of man:

"The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'." (Gen 2:8)

Have you ever looked at a piece of rope and noticed that it's one large strand made from three smaller strands? This actually makes the rope stronger, and King Solomon uses this fact as an allegory to show the importance of humans sticking together:

"A cord of three strands is not easily broken." (Eccl 4:12)

In that same discourse, he alludes to the universal principle that the efforts of two people cooperating together can accomplish more than two individuals working alone:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor." (Eccl 4:9)

This principle is widely accepted even in worldly circles of academics and business, and the term "synergy" has been popularized to describe it. The Bible has always shown us that when humans cooperate, strength is not just added but multiplied. Look at how God promises His people that He will grant them power to conquer, and when unity is involved, that power is exponentially larger:

"If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments...You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you." (Lev 26:3-8, Deut 32:30)

Solomon goes on to mention some practical examples that demonstrate how a team of people is naturally more advantageous:

"If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves" (Eccl 4:10-12)

As a church family, God has always taught us to value the benefit of coporate strength. Look at what Psalm 133 says:

"How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe...For there, the Lord bestows His blessing..." (Ps 133)

This is a vivid picture of the annointing oil, the symbol of power and authority, being poured over the head of the priest, and seeing it spill down and saturate his priestly robes. Wow! God says that seeing unity among His people is like seeing the annointing of God, the very power of God, saturating us as priests. And, He says that in this atmosphere of unity, He can release blessing! We are reminded regularly in the letters to the Church, to keep this attitude:

"I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Cor 1:10)

In fact, we are told that having this attitude and goal of single-mindedness is an important part of reaching full maturity in Christ:

"until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph 4:13)

It is necessary for believers to cooperate and help each other because no single person has it all. We each bring different essential, God given gifts and attributes, to the table:

"There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord." (1 Cor 12:5-6)

Jesus encourages us to stand together and seek common goals in faith:

"Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven." (Matt 18:19)

There will inevitably be times when people in the church will not see eye to eye on a particular issue. We should never sacrifice the truth and will of Jesus Christ for the sake of being cooperative. However, we should carefully consider which issues of disagreement are not essential doctrinal matters, and be willing to make sacrifices in these areas for the sake of peace. An essential part of maturing the Church, is lovingly helping others by bringing correction where there is error, in hopes of bringing everyone into a unified understanding of Biblical truth.

"Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching." (2 Tim 4:2)

Unity develops trust, and in an atmosphere where people feel safe, there is great opportunity for freedom, healing, and growth:

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)