Last week I shared with you my concern with the trend toward a more informal type of worship, which I felt allowed an attitude of casual faith and fostered a lower level of respect and reverence in God’s House. The week before that we were reading through 1Timothy 4: 11-16, which dealt with the duties and responsibilities of church leadership. I pointed out that Christian leadership extended into the lay community also. This week we will look at what brings it all together …… Koinonia
(/ˌkɔɪnoʊˈniːə/) is a transliterated form of the Greek word κοινωνία, which refers to concepts such as communion or fellowship, joint participation, the share which one has in anything, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution. It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Christian church, the Body of Christ.’ (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
I found many references to the word Koinonia and to keep it simple the best way to define it in a Christian context would be to look toward the community of faith. There we find communion, coming together as one and sharing the intimacy of faith in Jesus Christ. In the Greek New Testament the word appears nineteen times. In the New American Standard Bible it is broken down a bit more. The word is translated to fellowship twelve times, sharing three times and also refers to participation and contribution two times each. It is necessary to understand that in the New Testament the word is translated according to the context it is used in. Most of the time this will be found in communion, sharing or fellowship. There are many scriptures that attest to this. In the interest of simplicity I wrap it all up to one simple phrase… Fellowship of the believers.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Two other areas of interest to me would be the following, taken from Wikipedia.
The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion with one another in the one body of Christ. This was the full meaning of eucharistic koinonia in the early Catholic Church. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “the Eucharist is the sacrament of the unity of the Church, which results from the fact that many are one in Christ.”
The communion of saints (Latin, communio sanctorum), when referred to persons, is the spiritual union of the members of the Christian Church, living and the dead, excluding therefore the damned. They are all part of a single “mystical body“, with Christ as the head, in which each member contributes to the good of all and shares in the welfare of all.
(Note: I would change “mystical body”, here to read the “body of Christ as the head.)
Fellowship can mean many things applied in many different areas. Sometimes it can take a rather cynical meaning, being nothing more than acquiescing with something not exactly what you believe but in some ways advances your agenda. The importance of Christian fellowship cannot be understated. The Church today, the Universal Church, the Body of Christ, is under much pressure from societal and cultural pressures that our very Christian values are being challenged or marginalized with little or no opposition from the community of faith.
Being a layman it is difficult to reconcile a simple faith with theological teachings because there is so much valuable insight and understanding in the theological approach that it can and often does overwhelm many of us. One of the strengths of scripture is the simple awareness of intent, what is the purpose of God’s commands and how do they relate to the world today? Who knows the mind of God well enough to imply a different intent, simply to accommodate a societal or cultural agenda that attempts changes to the intent and responsibility of the fellowship of Believers? The responsibility of leadership belongs to all Christians, it is not something that only a few are capable of. We know from scripture that many have been given the various gifts of the Spirit to lead others to the gospel and meet the daily needs of the church.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
There is of course the scripture from 1 Corinthians 12: 20-27
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Koinonia, the fellowship of the believers is a necessary thing for those of the faith. There are many reasons for the importance of this fellowship in Christ but to put it in the simplest of words we are strengthen by each others commitment and presence. The goal of being respectable and reverent in God’s house and having a servant based ministry is the responsibility of all Christians. This Koinonia or fellowship is a powerful tool only because it is comprised of the Body of Christ.
Hope to see you back here next week in the Pew.
Life is Good