It’s hard to imagine isn’t it? Divine collaboration. Sounds like something out of a cerebral mythology thesis. At least it does to me. Yet, those are the words that keep coming to mind.
“Daddy,” I asked. “What do you want from me? What do you want from Your Church?”
With a wink and a contagious grin the size of galaxies colliding, he replied, “I want Divine Collaboration.”
This is an honorific to Him, I can tell. It’s a title he likes to pin on all His kids. We are all his Divine Collaborators. And I could tell He was thrilled that he’d gotten my attention.
Perplexed and definitely curious, I said, “Please explain.”
I am a philosopher and processing with God is something I like to savor. I want to stew and chew and taste every scoop of insight the Lord ever gives me. I feel delightfully compelled to savor and digest the nuanced flavor profile of God’s interactions, not just with me, but with his Body and with his Creation. I’ve learned a lot eating at the Lord’s table with Him. We talk. A lot.
The other day I was talking to a friend about this tattoo idea I had and all of a sudden I heard myself say, “It’s kind of like this ‘divine collaboration’ between God and me.” It just made sense to me to say it that way.
I had to smile. There it was again.
My husband and I took a road trip last month to celebrate our anniversary. We drove along part of the iconic Route 66 through Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona all the way to the Grand Canyon. As we drove through high desert devoid of much life and saw rock formations that put modern architecture to shame, I heard it again: divine collaboration.
The land spoke to me as I marveled at the spectacles and grandeur created where infinite pale sky meets striated rocks in various stages of petrification and erosion. I felt the profundity of time’s endlessness: infinitely changing and staying the same all at once. I had never felt closer to my Father God, the Creator of All Things than I did in those moments of experiencing his Creation. His words were clear: this is divine collaboration.
As I experienced the beauty of God’s world in all its intricacy I began to pray for the people who lived there, and I felt the land speak to my heart about them: these people that God loved so dearly and who had been so horribly abused by the “progress” of European settlers. I wept and prayed and wept and prayed. I fell in love with those impoverished and yet resilient indigenous people who continued to hold on through the worst types of adversity. Serious divine collaboration.
It’s so much more than just a “good conversation” with Jesus.
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,a 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,b 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,c being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11 ESV
Even Jesus didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped, but he accepted it anyway and obediently emptied himself from fear and doubt and the entitlement of his status, and trusted that His Father in Heaven had his back and they were a team, even if it didn’t feel like it sometimes.
Jesus humbled himself to the point of death on a cross because He trusted God.
How can we possibly be like Jesus? Jesus divinely collaborated with the God of the Universe, while considering equality with God something beyond his grasp, and obediently and humbly received and obeyed, even in angst, even in hunger, even in torment, even in fear. He conquered because he humbled himself and obeyed in perfect unity with God.
Even though obedience made him look like a slave.
So maybe trusting God in obedience isn’t slavery, even if it might look like it is? Maybe obedience is actually divine collaboration. Maybe choosing to humble oneself, one can find exaltation in the Living God and be empowered in His Righteousness to be joint heirs with Christ.
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sonsf of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17 ESV
Divine collaboration: to trust that even obedience unto death will gain eternal reward and glory for God AND you.
It can be unimaginably painful, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Yet, I know that suffering pays beautiful dividends for those who are willing to learn and grow from it. Empathy, courage, salvation. It all come from suffering. Death and suffering are not the end for those who are in Christ Jesus. We know, because of Christ’s example of trust and faith, that God will be faithful to us as well.
God doesn’t want mindless robots. He’s not going to force you to do anything. He asks. He always asks, because he loves you. He offers this divine collaboration to anyone who would accept it. If you can get over yourself long enough to believe that it might actually be better with God than without, to accept for even just a moment that God is in fact good and trustworthy, you too can have this beautiful title of “Divine Collaborator”.
Divine collaboration means trusting God, submitting to God, and then freely talking to God without fear of condemnation.
Daddy didn’t get angry with Jesus when he questioned Him in Gethsemane. He listened. He comforted. He strengthened. And Jesus endured to the end. He trusted the Father, and on the third day was resurrected from the dead.
Jesus obeyed God and was raised up in Glory.
We have seen the truth of who God is in the flesh of Jesus Christ, and we believe in our hearts through faith, that God raised him from the dead and he will one day do the same for us. We are saved from death into life and from orphan to first born son. God wants us to be his friends. He wants unity in love. Unity in love means divine collaboration. It means trusting that the source of love and life is from God and endowed to his children with generosity.
Divine collaboration isn’t passive. It isn’t selfish. It isn’t arrogant. To walk in Divine collaboration with God is to actively believe in the reality of your shameless and righteous status as a child of God and fearlessly “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Heb 4:16) not just to receive forgiveness of sins, but to be lifted up into glory with God himself and receive wisdom and comfort from Him for eternity. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Refuse to be silent receivers of God’s mercy and love. Choose instead to be Divine Collaborators. Let’s use the tools we have been given, infused with the Holy Spirit and the many gifts He has provided us, and share our thoughts and ideas with Jesus with confidence. Realize that He’s already decided to “use the foolish things to confound the wise” (1 Cor 1:27) so we can stop worrying about if God really wants to hear from us or not. Trust me, he does. No, we’re not worthy of it on our own, but we’re not our own if we’ve given ourselves to Jesus.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
Divine Collaboration with one another is equally valuable. God’s obedient and loving children are a collective force.
We are stronger together as Christ’s body here on Earth. Know that we are all one with Our Father in Heaven by His Spirit. We should be unified as His image bearers and as walking tabernacles of His Presence.
Let us each humble ourselves and be divine collaborators together with our Lord.