Philippians 1:4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. (NLT)
We are on this journey in the book of Philippians. We have discovered that the author of this letter, Paul, has a great relationship with the church in Philippi. He received a financial gift from this church that paid for his food in prison while in Rome. This gift enabled Paul to continue his ministry from behind the prison bars, writing letters of encouragement to churches.
Paul is thankful for their partnership in the gospel.” The word for “partnership” is a Greek term you are most likely familiar with—koinonia—a word that can be translated “fellowship.”
What do you think of when you hear the world “fellowship”? For me, I think food, specifically potluck dinners in the church “fellowship” hall. Or maybe it is sharing a cup of coffee with someone. As my buddy Mike used to always say, “we had good fellowship“.
Now, potlucks and coffee have their place. Especially the coffee. More coffee! But this interruption is not true koinonia.
The word koinonia originally had business overtones. If two men bought a boat and started a fishing business, they were said to be in koinonia—a formal business partnership. They shared a common vision and invested together to see the vision become a reality.
True Christian fellowship means sharing the same vision of sharing and living the gospel within the world—and then investing personally to make it happen.
Thus, there are financial overtones in the word koinonia—as well as a call to personal sacrifice. When Paul thanks God for the partnership of the Philippians, he is thanking God that from the very first day of their conversion, they rolled up their sleeves and got involved in the advance of the gospel. He is thanking them for the financial gift that allowed him to have food in Prison. They were partners in the gospel.
We have plenty of fellowship in the church. We come to church, we sing along with the worship music, we listen to the sermon, we might even shake some hands and say hello to a few people. But are we partners? Are we invested in the Kingdom work?
If there is no partnership, there is no church.
Are you a partner? an investor?
May God bless you with grace and peace as you partner with Him in the work of the gospel!