Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Koinonia is one of those Greek words that can be difficult to definitively translate into English; not because its meaning is vague but rather because of its wealth of meaning. It appears 19 times in the New Testament and is translated as fellowship (12times), sharing (3times), participation (2times), and contribution (2times). The most common reference is to people sharing in fellowship ( Acts 2:42), but here again, there is a deeper context; referring to the sharing of experiences such as joy and pain, loss and gain. And through such experiences becoming united in a common cause, creating common interests and goals. The depth of this kind of community or partnership creates a bond that supersedes individual pride and vanity. A partnership that gives us purpose, a joint participation in something greater than ourselves, an association with God. (This idea could also apply to a lesser degree but in no less profound ways regarding our relationship or unity with others in our country today. The lack of which was sorrowfully displayed in the actions of some this past week in their storming of the capitol. An overt act stoked by covert signals for months, culminating in notorious acts of disrespect and violence. To those claiming Christian principles for their riotous actions, I would merely ask, ‘Can you honestly imagine Jesus participating in such activity?’)
In writing to the Philippians, Paul expressed his thanks and joy because of their “partnership” (NIV) with him in spreading the gospel beyond their own little community of believers. ( Philippians 1:5) A partnership that inspired, sustained, encouraged and promoted unity among its adherents. It being his sincere belief that if we find any personal, “…encouragement from being united with Christ… comfort from his love… fellowship with the Spirit… (and)tenderness and compassion,…” expressed to us; then we should spread that joyfulness of being one in Christ by, “…being like-minded, having the same love (for Him and one another), being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:1,2 (See also Colossians 2:2)
That oneness of mind and spirit finding expression in, “…a life worthy of the calling (we) have received.” That being defined by Paul as one where we are, “…completely humble and gentle; be(ing) patient, bearing with one another in love. Mak(ing) every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (For) There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called in one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father over all,…” Ephesians 4:2-6 (See also Colossians 3:12-14)
Having the same attitude or mind of Christ ( Philippians 2:5) and being of one mind with our brothers in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 13:4) will forge true partnerships; fashioned through shared experiences, a shared hope, and a single-minded purpose. But where does that begin? In a common gospel. (And common ideals) With elementary teachings everyone chooses to live by; rooted in, “…a foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions about baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment…” Hebrews 6:1,2Those fundamental instructions of Christian living springing forth from the “good news”, “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, ..the twelve… five hundred (others), to James… the Apostles,…” (and finally Paul) 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
This in turn leads us to a common task (Based on common – even universal – goals) defined by Paul as ministry to Jews and Gentiles alike (See Romans 10:12); “…with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that (they) might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:16 Always prepared to defend – or give a reason – for the hope we have. ( 1 Peter 3:15) A common purpose and goal achieved not in spite of our differences but because of them. (See 1Cor. 12,13 & Ephesians 4:15,16) The call to defend our faith, confirming the belief of others and nurturing them to maturity in Christ requiring us to, “…rid yourselves of all malice and deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander… like new born babies, consume spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,…” 1 Peter 2:1,2 (See also Hebrews 5:12-14on the necessity of going on to the “meat” of the gospel, growing in faith and faithfulness.)
Doing so will create in us the same sense of urgency Paul felt in taking the gospel to the world,” …to Greeks and non-Greeks… to the wise and foolish.” For, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 Feeling obligated and compelled to do so. ( Romans 1:14,1Cor. 9:16 & 2 Corinthians 5:14) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Not to gain salvation but in response to it), which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 Never losing sight of the reality that, “…though we live in the world, we do not wage war (against evil thoughts and actions – and certainly not people) as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to destroy strongholds. (As) we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (See also 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, especially Paul’s resolve to, “…know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”)
All of this made possible by a common grace (And graciousness), usually understood to be the unmerited love and favor of God toward men and as a divine influence directing those accepting God’s mercy to a purity of life and acts of goodness. It can also be realized as strength in times of weakness, sustaining us in our resolve to live as He would have us live – in spite of the circumstances or consequences. Allowing us to, “…then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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