Dangerous ain’t it? ANY group of people may well gather online, in basements, the street or in houses/rooms of power and do just that: collaborate. Organize. Agree on agenda/s and actually get X, Y or Z done. Scary, no? Well… maybe, maybe not.
Straight up, my first thought when this term pops up is a mental image of Nazi collaborators, in particular the shaved heads of women in France when the country again became free. Let me clearly say I am not persuaded all of them were treated with the grace God offers you and I (who have ourselves collaborated with a demon or two as I understand scripture saying). Try this reality on for size every time we blow off God, His commands and love for “the least of these”-but I digress…
The “community” buzzword has nearly taken on a life of its own in recent years. Most everyone uses it or synonyms because none of us is ever fully, completely alone on the planet.
Sure, we may WANT to be fully independent, alone, aloof, beyond the reach of others but nada, just ain’t so on many varied levels. What to do?
Even the most “I did it MY way” minded, or in those decisions we really want to go it alone with we often recognize our own need. Not all are mechanics, or techies, or cooks, etc., etc..
The lyricist isn’t always a great producer nor the producer a fab engineer and on it goes. There are plenty of brilliant guitarists who record loads of forgettable songs because song writing is just not their forte. The song requires more attention to realize it’s full potential-and you often as an individual just ain’t got all the necessary heart, art, smarts to get it done by yourself.
Ahhhh yes, the “other shoe drops”: to collab means you don’t have full and total control. Oops. Now what?
For this writer as any reading this, the danger is in a nasty overlord. I mean –mean-, arrogant, control freaks who just HAVE to take the wheel. Which means at work, school, in a family, even a Christian gathering of any kind… you and I can end up under the wheels.
A person who is so very control (“win-win-win-at-all-costs”) minded whether that be a strong-arming individual or a group of them, such form what has often been called (and actually were/are) a blitzkrieg, Attila and his Huns, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge… even corporation executives whose personal profit and life fulfillment is THE cherry on the cake, well, of course they exist in our world. Hanging out with them means you are helping bake for their consumption, not shared interests nor common good.
Got that. Understood.
The Bible refers to this as “the old man”, that is, human nature sans God, the individual who thinks and acts in such manner that all revolves around THEM winning.
So we see that collaboration, community in and of itself isn’t THE FIX.
“BEND” DOESN’T MEAN “BREAK” -NOR “DIE”
You must have people who are not each and all hickories. I would say willows better fit the analogy. Deep roots, strong but flexible in a stiff breeze, willing to bend and blend.
Has it ever seemed to you that humility, grace, compassion for those you want to choke is just… well… just a sick, demented sort of plan? I mean at times WE are in the right, right? It’s the other guy/lady who’s the jerk and “must be destroyed” or at least totally avoided. But to collaborate, to get things done one cannot in every case avoid human contact and some of it is bound to be scratchy, maybe even painful, no?
Human interaction often involves friction, mis-communication (or nearly zero communication) disagreement, struggles. Some therefore choose loneliness, despair and at least try to sidestep, doing a sort of “hermit” lifestyle. Take this all the way to the finish: do you really think dying alone is the best sort of death?
I found many years ago that making peace does NOT mean full acceptance of a person or group, not full and total agreement and yet if by nothing other than due to the raw and absolute command of my Lord Jesus I have had to learn to love my neighbor, forgive my neighbor, collaborate.
After 64 years around the world in massively wide and varied cultures, subcultures, faiths (and lack of faith) relationships I am fully convinced collaboration has benefitted myself, my family, the communities I’m engaged with and most often those I influence. Why? I need what others bring to the table. Even my “enemies” bless me with lessons on how to love! How? The Holy Spirit works in my heart, bending, kneading, changing -me- by such means.
Brittle breaks, flexible bends. Life vs. death in this.
There is plenty to be learned from people you may find difficult to even like much less love. I’m serious. Good stuff, not just nonsense. Because all truth is God’s truth.
OLD VS. NEW
Did I mention I’m a fan of change, flexibility, respect for old school AND the fresh, new and we-never-did-it-like-that-before? Sure, risks and the possibility of a mess is always there. So is it me wearing “the emperor’s new clothes” if I am unwilling to collaborate? Possibly.
New wine/new wineskins. We all sometimes stand in the dried cement of “The old is BETTER!” Simply because we’re comfortable with it and not open to change.
Please consider the following text in light of what you’ve read so far:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”(1 Cor. 13.13)
New ways, new life, new sorts of thinking- and yet I do not mean we must completely discard all the eternal (yes) truths we’ve ever believed and learned, not at all!
Don’t miss this: Paul is talking relationships in this text, both with God and others. He is saying these things continue/remain/abide (now and eternally). Faith in God and indeed, toward your neighbor, hope in God (CAN you or I or “they” grow, change, learn??) and of course, love. Love from and for God and your neighbor is a command in scripture, never merely an option offered to us. We need interactions with others for both parties to learn and grow in faith, hope and authentic, active love.
Or we wall ourselves off from such and suffer the internal consequences.
I ask you: How can one have faith, hope and/or love with zero collaboration? How can one have any sort of relationship without collaborating in at least some sense?
I do not believe it is even possible. Consider this please!
Fact is, on any given day you or I may be the problem, we may be bringing the pain factor into the relationship. It’s not always “the other”!
I am deeply grateful for the art and many benefits of collaboration. In my music and other creative work as well as spiritual growth I continue to take the risks to collaborate because of the fruit I have experienced right through my lifetime.
I’ve long loved the symbol of the Ev. Cov. Church of which I am an ordained pastor because it references Jesus and the cross but also the concept of one-another, of “community”, “collaboration” and “team” which is very much what we are and I am about.
I also well remember times I held back from others due to fear, anger, unforgiveness and arrogance in my heart. Those have always been unproductive times for me because along with faith and hope, love is then choked off by my own unwillingness to extend the same grace to others I also want and need.
Finally, consider the simple definition of this term by taking a look at the first two paragraphs of the link (below) and see if you agree. I think it’s solid as rock.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn