Summary: Share your heart, possessions and money, and so be an encouragement to the entire body of Christ.
A young man took a short cut home through a cemetery late one night and fell in an open grave. He cried for help and tried to climb out, but it didn’t work. There was no one around to hear his cries or to lend a hand. So he settled down in a dark corner of the grave to wait for morning.
A little while later, somebody else took the same route through the same cemetery, taking the same short cut, and fell in the same grave. He started clawing and shouting, trying to get out just as the first guy had done. Then, the second guy heard a voice coming from a dark corner of the grave: “You can't get out of here.” Guess what? He did! (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, 1988, p. 385)
Sometimes we get stuck, and all we need is just a little encouragement. Fear works, sometimes. But an even greater encouragement is love.
Lee Iacocca once asked the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, what it took to make a winning team. Lombardi replied, “There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don't win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you're going to play together as a team, you've got to care for one another. You've got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself ‘If I don't block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his.’”
The difference between mediocrity and greatness, Lombardi said, is the feeling these guys have for each other. (Iacocca, as quoted by Christopher Stinnett, Leadership Magazine, Vol. 15:3, Summer 1994, p. 49)
That’s also the difference between a mediocre and a great church. It’s the care we demonstrate for one another. It’s our commitment to “love one another,” just as Christ commanded us.
The question is: What does that look like in a church? What does a church, inspired to greatness by love, look like? How does it behave? What are the particulars? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Acts 4, Acts 4, where we see what it looked like in the first church.
Acts 4:32-33 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul [or psyche in the Greek, i.e., they were of one heart and mind], and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. (ESV)
These people shared their hearts and minds with each other. They were united around one purpose. Their hearts were knit together, and they shared a common vision of the future, a common goal – and that was the world-wide proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Since 1995 when Toy Story was released, Pixar has created 14 feature films, all of which have become huge international successes. From its beginnings as a production company, Pixar has focused on the crucial value of teamwork and collaboration. Originally, the company planned to build three separate buildings with separate office spaces for the animators, computer programmers, and management. But Steve Jobs scrapped that plan and instead moved everyone into an old Del Monte canning factory that had one huge room with an atrium in the center. Jobs wanted to create a space where people throughout the company could bump into each other, deepen relationships, and share ideas.
But Jobs took it one step further: he moved everything – including mailboxes, meeting rooms, a coffee bar, and even the bathrooms – into the center of the atrium so people would be forced to interact. Initially, some of the employees complained that it was a waste of time to walk to the atrium every time they had to go to the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee. But Jobs kept telling Pixar employees, "Everybody has to run into each other." A Pixar producer called it "smooshing," and he added, "If I don't see lots of smooshing, I get worried."
Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, said, “The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space… But Steve [Jobs] realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen. So he made it impossible for you NOT to run into the rest of the company.”
The Latin motto for Pixar says it all: Alienus Non Diutius, or “alone no longer.” (Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, pp. 144-152; www. PreachingToday.com)