“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
It’s been said that no man is an island, which simply means that no one person can live totally in isolation from everyone else. We all need others to build us up, to support us, to bring us through the hard times, and celebrate life’s joys. The book of Ecclesiastes covers many facets of godly wisdom, but the benefits of fellowship with others are put forward here.
#1 Crafted for Companionship
From the earliest days of the creation of the world, mankind was never meant to be a solitary creature. When man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden, his uniqueness and loneliness was the one thing God called “not good,” and He said that He would make a suitable companion for the man (Genesis 2:18). When Adam met Eve, he found his other half in a complementary relationship between man and woman, but he also found something else that is very important to the human experience: community.
The term “community” can mean a group of people with common characteristics, or it can refer to a feeling of fellowship and belonging, a sense that a group is striving together towards a common goal, or at least going through life with the good of the others in mind. God’s chosen people, the Hebrews, were called to be a unique community set apart for Him (Leviticus 20:26), which also implied a command to be actively involved with each other. Even when the children of Israel were in exile, God still commanded them to find solace in their brethren and to build up the communities they now lived in (Jeremiah 29:4-7) because community was so important.
#2 Called to Community
In the New Testament, we are also called to recognize the special community we become a part of when we become believers in Jesus Christ. We become our own people and nation, set apart to praise the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). The early church lived in community in the fullest sense, supporting each other’s needs and showing the love of Christ to those around them (Acts 2:44-47).
#3 Consecrated by Camaraderie
The author of Ecclesiastes, identified in the text as the Preacher, sought out the deepest wisdom in the world and found that the meaning of life is elusive when the pursuit of wealth or wisdom or pleasure is our primary goal (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). He ultimately arrives at the conclusion that we should take as much godly pleasure in our lives as we can while we are on the earth, and that obeying the Lord’s commands will do us the most good (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
One of the most important ways we can do that is through community. By fellowshipping with others and working together, we can accomplish more than we could alone. The Preacher uses the example of work to state that, by working together, we can gain more from our work, rescue each other from failure or injury, and provide comfort and solace in uncertain times (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11).
Verse 12 is a well-known proverb, but its meaning goes beyond simple cords of rope. It is an image of the deep bonds forged by holy community. We may fall to temptation if we try to withstand it alone, but even having a single companion by our side can give us a better chance of withstanding our sinful natures. And when we gather together with the larger body of believers, we become even stronger.
#4 Connected in Christ
As Christians, we are already part of such a community. After accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, and passing through the waters of baptism, one of the first steps we should take is to join a local church community. We are already part of the larger body of believers that spans the globe but committing ourselves to a local community is an expression of our commitment to love others as Christ loved us (John 13:34).
We can reap the benefits of such a community in many ways, but one powerful way is through prayer. Jesus said that wherever two or three were gathered together in His Name, He would be in their midst (Matthew 18:20). It’s as if he was alluding to this very verse in Ecclesiastes – we can indeed experience the presence of God individually in our own hearts, but the fullness of Christian community can only be experienced when we are gathered together with one mind and spirit.
If you have not yet committed yourself through membership and service to a local church, you are missing out on a sweet, Spirit-filled community that can join you on your journey through life, celebrate your successes, soothe your sorrows, and shine the Word of God on your heart and life. By weaving your life together with those around you, your faith can become even stronger.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.