This week the unthinkable happened for any firefighter like me. I serve as the chaplain with my local fire company and Tuesday night my pager went off to alert us of a fire, at our firehouse! An electrical transformer near our firehouse and the wire leading from it caught on fire. This caused an electrical malfunction in the basement of the firehouse and it began filling with smoke. Fortunately one of our lieutenants happed to be at the firehouse when it happened and called it in to the dispatch center. Not only did our guys race to the firehouse, but we had trucks from five surrounding fire companies respond to assist us. We call it mutual aid, and it is vital to the fire protection of any community with volunteer firefighters. Not only did they respond immediately to assist us, one of the companies is housing our trucks while repairs are being made.
I thought about this in light of what the Bible teaches about mutual aid in the family of God. The triune God we worship is inherently a God of relationship and we were created to be in relationship, Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God created Eve to provide a suitable relationship for Adam that would be mutually beneficial. This theme is carried throughout the Bible. For example, in the book of Nehemiah you see it clearly in the rebuilding of Jerusalem (see Neh. 4) and in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 we read, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. I one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him 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. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
The New Testament speaks of this in a number of places. You see it in Mark 2 where are group of men work together to bring a crippled man to Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul speaks of the fact that believers form one body with many parts. Here are just a couple of verses from this passage:
V. 12, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all parts are many, they form one body. “
V. 24-27, “ But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it, if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
He also speaks of the importance of mutual aid in Philippians 1:27, “I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.”
Sadly, the church isn’t always known for its mutual aid between believers. So what are you doing to be a source of mutual aid with your fellow Christ follower? A word of encouragement, an offer to pray, a helping hand, responding when a brother or sister is hurting, delivering a meal, giving a ride, these are just a few ways you can make a difference. We live at a time when there is too much division and strife in our society. We, the family of God, can be a catalyst for change, and earn the opportunity to share our faith by demonstrating what mutual aid can be regardless of race, denomination, political party, etc. As Jesus admonishes us in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”