First, it takes biblical thinking. Our Lord taught us to live an upside down, or better, a rightside up life (Matthew 20:25-26).
For example, Jesus instructed His disciples that in order to be great they must become servants (Matthew 20:26). He shocked their sensibilities when He instructed them to forgive in order to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35). He taught that the first will be last and the last first (Mark 10:31). He told them, then showed them, that the way to gain one's life is to lose it for the Gospel (Mark 8:35; 10:45).
When we cooperate, we esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We willingly and graciously submit ourselves to one another in the Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 5:21). We embrace the string of selfless admonitions woven throughout the New Testament letters—from Romans 12 to Philippians 2; from Colossians 3 to 1 John 4. In fact, the one who does not love his brother has no part with Jesus (1 John 3:10-12; 4:7-11).
Second, it takes obedient action. American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow declared, "Act,—Act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead!" The Apostle Paul said it even more eloquently: "Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:9). A comparison with other translations drives home the point: "practice these things" (ESV, NASB); "put it into practice" (NIV 1984). The doing is not a singular act; it is an habitual course of action. We routinely and continually put into practice what God's Word teaches. When we do, our graciousness (HCSB) or gentleness (NKJV) becomes known to everyone (Philippians 4:5).
When we tie together biblical thinking with obedient action, we exercise Christ-like selflessness. And this is what it takes for cooperation to succeed. My constant prayer is that we as Southern Baptists will cooperate with one another...for the Gospel, for the nations, for the lost, for a watching world!
Frank S. Page, President and CEO, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention