A True Partnership

 

One of my favorite history authors is Stephen Ambrose. He has written much on World War II including a great book entitled Band of Brothers which was turned into one of my favorite mini-series by HBO. I love to read about the heroism of men and women during the war to save the world. I don’t remember where I read it, but there is one story that told about Broughton Knox who serve as a British chaplain in the Navy. One day Chaplain Knox was in a conversation with a soldier over the differences between the way he felt before the Normandy invasion and after the conflict. Knox commented that “During those months that preceded and followed D-day, our thoughts had a minimum of self-centeredness in them. We gave ourselves to our shared activity and objective… once the undertaking was over we reverted to our own purposes, as we do normally.”

When we use the word fellowship, we often mean comradeship, sharing of good times, just “hanging out” or gathering for talking/eating. But there is more to it than that, and Paul definitely had more in mind. Read:

Vs. 7It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers (“fellowshipers”) with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel."

Perhaps you know the word “koinonia”. Many have used the word to title their small group or fellowship gatherings, and it is appropriate since this word is used in the New Testament to refer to fellowship among believers in the Lord. Here we have a use or form of the word in “koinon” which means “fellowshipers”. In verse 5 it is translated “partnership”; here in verse 7, it is translated “partakers”. Paul in these few verse talks about being “partakers with me in grace” with the Philippian church.  

With what do you partake with others? Meals, service, labor, fun, sports? Here it is used to refer to something far deeper. Paul prays for the church at Philippi and gives thanks for them because they share in his love for Jesus and in his labors to spread the Gospel. How can we have such a bond with others?  

Perhaps you have been on a short-term missions trip before. If you have, then you know the close bond that can be created during such brief times. It can be hard to return to everyday normal living after such an intense and focused time together. During the trip, you spent time together daily, eating meals together, worshipping and studying God’s Word together, and laboring each day side-by-side. The distractions of everyday living are all put aside, and everyone is focused on a common task whether it was laying block, mixing concrete, teaching a VBS or loving on small children. This singular focus, motivated by a common goal, developed a deep and lasting bond between you and the other participants, and I hope between you and the Lord. Why is it that we don’t seem to be able to have this same focus when we return home? Perhaps the WWII veteran, Chaplain Knox’s explanation sheds light on this question as well. We return to our own lives, focused on many good things but often returning to a largely self-focus.

One writer said this: true, Biblical fellowship or koinonia is a “Sharing IN something, participating in something greater than the people involved and more lasting than the activity of any given moment. It means being caught up into a communion created by God.” Paul’s affection likewise rose out of a fellowship of grace that was “supercharged with action”.

So, What Now? Will you be a part of something like this this coming summer? Does it excite you to be more single-minded? What keeps you from focusing your heart, mind, and life on Jesus? Ask Christ today to remove the things in your life that keep you distracted and that He would reveal Himself to you more today, that He would give you a “koinonia” fellowship with Himself and with others.