by Michael Goldsmith
1 Corinthians 1:9, New Living Translation, “God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited us into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
There are many dimensions to our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is Savior, healer, provider, deliverer, miracle-worker, comforter and so on. One of my favorite dimensions of relationship is partnership. “He has invited us into partnership…” What an amazing concept to consider. Some versions translate it fellowship; however, the Greek word carries the connotation of partnership, participation, and social engagement…in other words a relationship of joint venture. In a partnership, everyone has responsibility. Husband/wife, parent/child, employer/employee, government/citizen, even friend/friend…for these relationships to work well there is an implicit suggestion of responsibility especially in regard to living a blessed life. I’d like to make a few observations about our partnership with Christ.
First, everything God asks of us in this partnership is doable. The Lord never demands something from us which is beyond us particularly in regarding to living a blessed life.
Deut 28:2, “And all these blessings shall come upon you and over take you, if you will obey the Lord your God.”
There it is – obey. God asks us to obey, trust, follow, apply, do, live….all of which are in the realm of our ability. He doesn’t say the blessed life is reserved for the extraordinarily talented, the highly educated, the absurdly wealthy, the well connected or anything beyond us. Everything is doable – it’s attainable, bottom shelf, within our reach and capacity.
Second, our part typically comes first. Nearly every act of faith resulting in a miracle began with an action on our part first (outside of creation for which we had not been created). The children of Israel marched around the walls of Jericho, the widow collected pots for the oil, the four friends lowered their lame friend through the roof to Jesus, the lady with the issue of blood crawled through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Each time there was a human participation preceding the work of God. I wonder if we miss out on some of God’s best for our lives simply because we’ve failed to do our part. I wonder if at times while we are pleading for answered prayer whether God might be tempted to shout, “Work with me, people!”
Third, God will not do your part. If we want to enjoy the fruit of human free will and the ability to choose as we please, then we must also accept responsibility for human free will which involves cooperating with God. I am a major proponent of taking personal responsibility. Our walk with God is not a passive, disengaged, blasé affair. It’s a walk, not a ride on a moving sidewalk. Effort is required.
Finally, God gives us the easy part and He takes the hard part. Wow! How incredible is that. He does the heavy lifting. The children of Israel walked around the walls of Jericho (easy); God caused them to fall flat (hard). The widow gathered pots (easy); God multiplied the oil (hard). The four friends lowered their crippled companion (challenging but still easy), God miraculous healed him (hard). The suffering lady crawled through the crowd to touch Jesus (easy); He healed her sickness (hard).
We need a theology of partnership! The Message paraphrase puts it this way,
“God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.”
Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org