In my previous blog I talked about how important it is to live in community both for our growth and our Christian walk; about following the example set by The Father, Son and Holy Spirit of being in community; and that Jesus is praying for His church, that we would be one.
This week I want to talk about a very important word: ‘fellowship’. This is how we live out our community life together.
The word ‘fellowship’ is translated from the Greek word ‘Koinonia’ which has a wide range of meaning in the bible, but principally means “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.”
A powerful example of what koinonia should look like can be found by studying the phrase “one another” as it appears in the bible. When thinking about what community should look like it would be worth meditating and reflecting on the following scripture passages:
- Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
- Honouring one another (Romans 12:10)
- Living in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8)
- Accepting one another (Romans 15:7)
- Serving one another in love (Galatians 5:13)
- Being kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16)
- Encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13)
- Spurring one another on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
- Offering hospitality (1 Peter 4:9)
- Loving one another (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11-12).
Following these biblical principles will give a good example of what true biblical koinonia looks like.
The apostle Paul uses the word koinonia in his letter to the Christians in Galatia. It’s an interesting reference: “James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Koinonia) when they recognized the grace given to me.”(Galatians 2 v 9). In other words, despite Paul’s previous history of persecuting the church, he was now welcomed as one connected with them in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This koinonia fellowship – one of the essential characteristics of authentic Christian community – has a dual dimension. It not only has a horizontal dimension of brotherly love between believers, but also a vertical dimension of being connected to God the trinity; loved by the Father, saved and redeemed by the Son and filled and equipped by the Holy Spirit. What a precious fellowship!
We are now in God’s glorious family with fellow believers we can call brothers and sisters united under one father. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!!” (1 John 3 v 1). We are called to love one another just as Jesus commanded in John 13 v 34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Next time we will look a bit more at this most important of attributes, love, and study some practical applications of how we can “love one another”.