I don’t typically geek out over prepositions. Prepositions are a part of speech we use every day. Of…In…Over…Through…After… the list goes on and on. But after a conversation I had yesterday, it struck me just how powerful the preposition “with” can be.
“With” carries with it connotations of togetherness. “I am not completing this task alone. I am doing it WITH someone else.” There is comfort in the idea of togetherness, brotherhood, camaraderie. Certainly, there are times when we like to be alone or wish to accomplish a task on our own, but “with” means we don’t always have to!
The Bible echoes our need for “with.” If we go back to Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, we find God in His creating process. At the end of each creative day, we read, “…and it was good.” Everything God created was good. Then, in the Garden of Eden, God said of Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Adam needed “with.”
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, we get another heavy dose of the importance of “with.” Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (ESV) Although the word “with” is not present, the idea of it fills those verses.
We also see Jesus investing Himself in the lives of His disciples. He did more than just show up and give lectures to them five days a week. He spent time with them, going through life, demonstrating His love and power, giving them responsibilities, correcting them, encouraging them, sharing meals with them, laughing and crying with them. In short, Jesus “did life” with them. Could we have a better example of “with”?
Let me encourage you to think about “with.” In your home, be with your spouse, your children, your parents. It’s easy to just zone out watching TV or get caught up in video games or the internet. Value “with.” Intentionally find ways to maximize with-ness in your family.
In your friendships, do the very same thing. Be “with” your friends. Treasure those friendships. Make time for togetherness. It’s may be easier to be a homebody, to spend endless hours streaming Netflix in your pajamas. Certainly, there are times we need to be alone – some more than others – but God created us for “with.”
The power of “with” in church is incredible. To invite someone to come “with” you to church is far more powerful than simply inviting them to church. To ask someone to come and serve “with” you in ministry is far more likely to engage them in service than to simply ask them to perform a ministry task alone. We see the practice of “with” in our small groups, in our fellowship time, in our mission trips, and in service projects in the community. “With” energizes and engages.
I’d be negligent if I did not also mention the power of “with” in our relationship with God. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave His disciples what we commonly call “the Great Commission.” Here it is – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“I will be WITH you.” That is the promise of Jesus to every one of His followers. That should not surprise us. Psalm 23 reminds us that God is “with” us even in the valley of the shadow of death. Isaiah tells us that the Messiah who was to come (Jesus) would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), which the gospel of Matthew tells us means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
We need the presence of God with us. We need the presence of others in our lives. And we need to be present for and with others. They need us! The writer of Hebrews makes this clear – … let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV). There is great encouragement with “with,” and separation and discouragement without it.
This week, focus on the power and the blessing of WITH!