When God Said It Wasn’t Good: Overcooked and the Importance of Real Life Co-op (1 Cor 12:12-27)

I would have never guessed that my failure to deliver “non-burnt” onion soup on time could create a shatter point in a relationship, but yet here we are.  On a related note, if you would like to test the strength of a friendship or a relationship, there are very few legal ways to do this more successfully than through playing a video game together such as Overcooked.  The challenge may sound simple… overcome the unique challenges of each kitchen environment to work together and deliver up the requested dishes before you run out of time.  But here is the truth.  No matter how much you love someone, care for someone, or are willing to take a bullet for them… there is a limit to how much strain you can place on a relationship.  And you tend to realize that limitation right about the time that they present yet ANOTHER tomato soup to be served when it was OBVIOUS that onion soup was the one we needed right NOW.  The good news is that relationship counseling is readily available through a variety of channels… the bad news is that the positive impact this will make on your ability to run a virtual kitchen together is unconfirmed at this time.  I will keep you posted.  Shes not talking to me yet, but I hid her toothbrush so I’m sure that EVENTUALLY she will come around.

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To be fair, the insane stylings of each kitchen challenge are not terribly realistic, but it is the simplicity of understanding what is needed and yet still being unable to accomplish it that drives the frustration. I mean… it’s just meat.  Prep it, cook it, put it on a bun.  Why is this so difficult to achieve?  Well…. maybe it’s because of the additional complexities caused when your kitchen is ripped in half and only one chef has access to the food while the other chef has the only access to a grill.  Or maybe it’s when you are forced to throw ingredients to each other across a vehicle that is somehow still driving down the road in spite of the fact that it has been split in two and the kitchen along with it.  Each bizarre scenario forces you and your co-op partner to not only work together to survive, but to learn to practically telepathically communicate in order to defeat each challenge before the clock hits zero.  Cutthroat kitchen indeed…

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The funniest part about all of this is that each of these challenges are both easier as well as seemingly more difficult with a partner.  The paradoxical reality is all of these challenges would be essentially IMPOSSIBLE to accomplish by yourself, even if they seem overly complicated in tandem.  And while partnerships in real life often get messy and seem to result in far more chaos than success, the truth is that these co-op relationships in the real world are not only beneficial, they are NECESSARY.  Don’t believe me?  Lets ask the One who designed the course…

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We have to start our adventure in Genesis 2:18, where find God on day six of creation.  Every day to this point has both begun and ended the same way… they each started with “Then God said” and finished with “And God said that it was good”.  But on day six we had the FIRST time that the status quo changed… and appropriately enough it was when God made man.   After crafting Adam and breathing life into him, for the first time in recorded history God said something was NOT good.

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Despite the fact that at this time sin had not yet entered the world and the planet was a literal paradise, even in this IDEAL scenario God knew that it was not good for His mankind to be alone.  So, if in the most peaceful, optimal and perfect form of existence God saw that we were not meant to be alone, then what about now?  Living on a planet in a constant state of unrest, surrounded by daily challenges, and enduring the aches and pains of an imperfect world?  If we were not meant to be or feel alone,  why is it that so many of us seem to be doing exactly that in some form or another?  Let’s explore deeper…

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Almost every major technological leap forward in mankind’s growth has been anchored in the concept of NOT wanting to be alone.  Think about it… why did we go to space?  To see if we are alone in the universe.  Why did we invent technologies such as the telegram, the walkie-talkie, the telephone, video chat, and most recently social media?  So we can connect and stay connected with others.  Why did the chicken cross the road?  Obviously, because there was a chicken he wanted to talk to on the other side.  Either that, or because there was a Popeye’s Chicken Restaurant over there and he just couldn’t resist.  Okay, maybe that one is conjecture. I can’t say for certain if the power of a Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich would make a chicken resort to cannibalism.  It FEELS accurate though.

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But getting back on track, while there are multiple valuable reasons why each of these and many more advancements exist today, one of the primary core drivers of new technologies is so that we can connect and stay connected with others.  The Lord recognized this need from the very first day of our existence.  Unfortunately, the enemy of our souls recognized this need as well.  In Genesis 3 satan demonstrated his primary mechanism of attack… the same one he has been using so successfully ever since.

Starting with the temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden, he knew that the best way to attack us is to get us ALONE.  This pattern continues all throughout the Scriptures through even the most elite servants of God, whether we are looking at the failure of David and his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), the fall of Samson (Judges 16), the self-imposed exile of the depressed prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19), the doubt of John the Baptist when he was imprisoned, (Matthew 11), or the infamous betrayal of Jesus by Peter (Luke 22).

Over and over again we see that it is the devil’s plan to drive us into a real or perceived state of being alone, because he knows that this is when we are at our weakest point and most vulnerable to his attacks.  Need further proof?  When Jesus Himself was tempted by satan (Matthew 4 and Luke 4),  he was led out into the wilderness ALONE.  And if this is when satan saw Christ at His most vulnerable point, then the question now becomes, “What are we supposed to do about this?” And as always, we can find the answers littered throughout the Bible.

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Let’s start with the template Jesus Himself used when he began sending out His followers to spread the Gospel.  In Luke 10 Christ sent His seventy followers out in a very specific formation… two by two…

Luke 10:1-3 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.  Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.

With the wisdom of the Father, Jesus knew that His followers needed to not only have His words to guide them, but the support of a partner to protect them.  This is demonstrated in the wisdom of the wisest man ever to live, King Solomon…

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Now you might be tempted to say, “That is the Old Testament.  Now that we are in the New Testament it’s all good, right?  God with us and all that sort of thing?”  Well, let’s see what Jesus Himself has to say on the subject…

Matthew 18:19-20 I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

And one of the best things about Jesus?  He practiced what He preached.  When Jesus was heading into His final temptation, He did not go into that garden alone.  He brought His three most trusted disciples with Him into the endgame…

Matthew 26:36-38 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.  And while it is truly a blessing if your co-op partner is your spouse, a family member, or a relative, this concept does not require that to be the case.  Perhaps you are not married/in a relationship, have little to no family members, or have poor relationships with those who you are related to.  All of these verses make it crystal clear that you are NOT designed to be alone, regardless of those obstacles.  I have fallen for this trap myself, in a period of exceptional loneliness from both a romantic as well as a friendship standpoint.  And satan tricked me for a long time into believing that I was better off this way… that people could not be trusted, that I was safer in my little cocoon, neither receiving from nor contributing to society.  I stared out into the social media landscape longing for more but refusing to engage with others  and become a self-imposed “hermit” of sorts.

I buried myself into books, video games, and other non-interactive media to lull myself into a place of seeming companionship.  I would have remained in that lonely state forever, a place where I could have zero impact for the Kingdom of God because I had completely isolated myself from society.  I had believed the lie of the devil that I was meant to be alone, better off being alone, and maybe the world was better off without me, too.  Through the grace of God and my local church He brought me into contact with other like-minded believers… imperfect people like me who showed me a better way, and because of their love and instruction I was placed back into the body of Christ.

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For my final example, let us turn once again to the Apostle Paul.  Paul did not marry, did not have children, and has no record of any from of contact with his family.  And yet he also knew the importance of having a co-op partner throughout his many years of service to Christ.  At the beginning of his ministry, Paul was tethered by the Holy Spirit to Barnabas to complete the work the he had been called to…

Acts 13:2-3 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Later in his ministry, Paul and Barnabas had a significant point of dissent, and both unfortunately ended up going their separate ways.  But Paul did not move forward alone simply because his co-op partner moved in a different direction.

Acts 15:39-41 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Sometimes in life, our co-op partnerships break down.  But even in those heart-breaking cases, we are meant to move forward prayerfully towards our next mission for Christ with another follower (or followers plural) of Christ who is moving the same direction.  I hope to challenge anyone who has fallen for the same deception that satan has used to his advantage from the beginning of time until now… You are NOT better off alone.  You were NOT designed to be alone.  From creation, throughout the Old Testament, the example of Christ Himself on earth, and continuing through the rest of the New Testament, it is clear that isolation is a tool of our enemy to break us down and disconnect us from both the body of Christ as well as the Lord Himself.  We MUST follow the guidance of our Lord and reject the lie that we can serve God while being disconnected from the body of Christ.

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Sometimes it will be messy.  Most the time this “kitchen” of life will resemble chaos more than order.  But that is what happens when imperfect people come together to serve a perfect God.  Perhaps you have been burned by a fellow chef in the kitchen, intentionally or accidentally, and now you find it safer to simply work alone.  Or maybe you are the chef who poured the soup on someone else and now you no longer feel worthy to join the team.  I have been both, and I can tell you this… the message from the Lord stands firm regardless of the human frailty of the chefs who comprise the kitchen staff.  We are NOT better off without you… we NEED you.  You are part of the team… the body of Christ.  It is through this flawed and imperfect co-op experience that we have been instructed to reach and serve the world.  So start chopping those tomatoes… this onion soup isn’t going to serve itself.  Oops… better make that tomato soup…

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1 Corinthians 12:12-27 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 

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