We played Monopoly a lot when I was a kid. Of course, in the earliest years, playing Monopoly usually meant using the little iron to get the pretend wrinkles out of Barbie’s clothes or pretending to sew with that itsy-bitsy thimble. Or sometimes it meant putting all the money in my dad’s tackle box so we could play store.
By the time we were ready to play the actual game, most of the money and at least half the tokens were missing. But then we just combined what was left of the game with a few parts from Clue and Mouse Trap and we were good to go. Okay, so we did have to change a few rules. I’m pretty sure I remember a time when my brother won because he drew a cheese card and Colonel Mustard took a ride on the Reading Railroad. Though now that I think about it, my brother always seemed to win anytime he was the banker. What are the odds?
I think my favorite way to play Monopoly was when we used Cheetos for replacement parts. The game was over whenever we finished eating it. The board was a messy orange, I won’t lie, but it was about the most delicious game we ever played. I wonder if that’s why I still have a bit of a thing for Cheetos. Of course, now that I’ve matured, instead of calling them Cheetos, I like to call them croutons. That way whatever I put them on is automatically a salad. It’s no wonder, though, that I’m still a tad confused on the rules of Monopoly. Rules of salad, too, but I was confused about the rules of Monopoly first.
I think the name of the game is even a little confusing. I know mono has its origins in the Greek language and means alone or one. The Greek poly means many, right? So which is it? One or many? I’m not sure if I need training in the rules of Monopoly or the rules of etymology.
Okay, just joking a bit. I realize there are other words and origins at play there, like the poly in monopoly really comes from pōlion, to horse trade or barter. But I don’t have to stretch it too far for it to serve as a little reminder that it’s good to train ourselves in the discipline of appreciating the connections we enjoy with our fellow servants of Christ.
Yes, train ourselves. You realize that there’s simply no way I can resist the urge to add a railroad pun somewhere in a Monopoly article, right? I’ll try to at least make it a Short Line. And I figure I’ll be okay as long as I don’t get too far off track. But training ourselves can be a little like riding the Reading. Or perhaps, reading the writing. Paul wrote words worth reading in Philippians 1:5. Take a look in the Amplified Version, I thank my God for your fellowship (your sympathetic cooperation and contributions and partnership) in advancing the good news (the Gospel) from the first day you heard it until now.
Needless to say, I’m not a very organized or detail-minded person. After all, I am the one who lost game pieces and had to play board games with food. So, I especially appreciate those who are organized and who serve in so many details of ministry to help make our church more effective. I’m so thankful for the way we can work together beyond our church through our association. Cooperation is all about the many serving The One. I truly do thank my God for those partnerships that help us advance the Good News.
A little later in that same chapter, Paul gives instructions for the many to labor together with one mind. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27).
Side by side—more than one—but with one mind. And with one voice. Romans 15:6 says, That you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice. Cooperating together to glorify our Father—I love that! The many together, yet one voice. Mono, yet in stereo!
It’s easy to forget how blessed we are to have the connections we enjoy. Whenever “mono” begins to feel “alone,” we can be thankful and receive great encouragement as we remember that we don’t have to do ministry in mono. God’s plan is for us to work together, combining our game pieces, as it were, and we’re good to go. As a matter of fact, we’re good to go all the way to the uttermost parts of the earth with His Gospel. When we pool our resources and roll up our sleeves alongside each other, we see Kingdom fruit. Many working for The One. I’m not for a second suggesting you make a board game out of it, but if you did, I think you could reasonably call it “PolyMono”—many serving The One to reach many more.
When it comes right down to it, not only are we called to be thankful for our connections, we must truly understand our deep need for each other. No playing games here. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (ESV). All pretend wrinkles aside, cooperation results in a sharpness we simply can’t achieve on our own.
As we appreciate each other and work together in a way that glorifies our Father, we win. We just do. Even if we’re never the banker.