One of the things that fascinated me about the Lennon and McCartney dynamic was that it was the first time I had heard of the concept of collaboration. (As it turned out this was a concept I should have been very familiar with because of my time at church, but that’s a different story.) Here were these two eager young men who sought to make good rock and roll music to reach the top. They drew on each other’s skills and love of music to create songs that has lasted generations. The two didn’t always work together, but the spirit of collaboration urged each other on in their purple patch of success in their early days. Their story of great collaboration was only heightened in the light of the tragic breakdown of that partnership even during times where people thought The Beatles were still a pop group at the peak of their powers.
This story of collaboration was a seed sown in me about the power of great partnerships. I witnessed similar things in sport. As a Liverpool fan from the late 1980’s I thought John Barnes and Peter Beardsley had a beautiful understanding. I look out for those relationships between players that almost come across as though they are psychic knowing each other’s moves so well and being able to play to the strengths of each other. These days there’s a trio of players at Barcelona – Messi, Neymar and Suarez – who express the height of glorious collaboration which thus enhances their world class status.
These stories of people working together, drawing out the best from each other to produce something together that far outweighs what they could ever achieve on their own. The give and take, the wisdom to know when to go to the forefront or slip into the background to create space for the other to shine. The humility, the meekness, the commitment to excellence that informs all of these partnerships and relationships have had a significant impact on my life.
So it came as a little surprise to me to discover what I had long admired in the world of entertainment and sports, was actually something God had always intended from the beginning and was very much in mind when He made human beings in the first place. The whole concept of the woman coming alongside the man was for them to collaborate in fulfilling the mandate expressed in creation. This was something God knew would require relationship, teamwork – Collaboration!
It was the basis of good marriage, it was the purpose of family, it underpinned the function of society. We replenish the earth, we steward it best, we cultivate and take mastery over it best in the context of collaboration even as the very creation of humanity was a collaborative effort when God said,
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:26 ESV)
Right here was the heart of humanity reflecting a collaborative deity. This spirit of cooperation and collaboration was evident in how man collaborated with God in His redemptive plan. It was evident in the mission of Jesus who could have gone solo, but ensured the work was collaborative so that when he ascended those who knew him best were in the best position to carry this on. Even Paul’s allusion to the church as body and John’s call to love each other in deed and truth stimulates not just a desire to get by with people, but actively work with them in expressing God’s collaborative character on the earth.
No better place was this to be epitomised than in marriage – where the man and woman compliment each other and work together to express God’s love to each other and together to the world. For that to happen requires faithfulness. For that to happen requires the ability to patiently celebrate the best in each other and motivate them to continue to express that for the benefit of all.
Such a devoted commitment to collaboration with each other at the most intimate level would challenge each one to exclusivity where the collaboration was concerned. In turn it would also produce beauty and wonder that not even the best work of Lennon and McCartney could match.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden