The Pursuit of Fellowship
"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself." Colossians 2:1-2
Although the word never appears in this passage, at the core of this great text lies the image of real fellowship. Many that have been raised in church tend to think of fellowship as a specific room in the building or certainly an activity that involves food. Throughout Paul’s writings in the New Testament (he wrote 13 books) he provides a comprehensive description of this relational connection that should mark the lives of those who claim Christ as Lord.
Here are three specific places in the Bible where Paul uses the word koinonia to capture the characteristics associated with the relationship that believers share. In 1 Corinthians 10:16 he uses the word to say that there is a uniqueness about our connection that is represented at Communion or the Lord’s Supper: Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing (Koinonia) in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing (koinonia) in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16). Also the relationship is marked through the act of financial support or caring for the needs of others… begging us with much urging for the favor of participation (koinonia) in the support of the saints, (2 Corinthians 8:4). In this passage he has a specific offering in mind and he is requesting participation or fellowship through the act of support. Paul also uses this word to support the notion that as we suffer, we are tied to the sufferings of Christ. We know fellowship with Christ through the sufferings we experience in this body that will ultimately lead to the state of glorification; …that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).
In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes this observation concerning the basis of our fellowship: Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it.
My prayer is that by God’s grace we have the opportunity to know the fellowship that is available through Christ.
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