Thank you, Partners!
Dec 1 2023 - Eric Buresh
I’m not sure exactly what happened to the 365 days since we last entered the holiday season, but here we are again. Time flies! The Thanksgiving holiday is a great reminder that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of change.” James 1:17.
One “good gift” I am thankful for is the close partnership I share with many of my brothers and sisters in my church family at Grace. To borrow the words of the Apostle Paul, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your [partnership, koinōnia] in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-5. The word koinonia is often translated “fellowship,” but at its root, it describes a partnership, or a fellow-working.
One of the many things the Holy Spirit has been sinking into my thick skull over the last several years is the critical importance of church family to the growth and care of our individual faith. I honestly thought for a long time that I didn’t need anyone else to have a growing and vibrant relationship with my Father. It was between Him and me, and by the Holy Spirit, we would sort it out. Now, I’m not saying it is impossible to grow without fellowship in unusual circumstances (e.g., the lone believer in a non-Christian city, etc.). God has many different means of grace at His disposal to grow His children. I am saying, however, that fellowship in the family of God is one of the primary and normal means in God’s tool belt by which He delivers grace, and if we don’t embrace fellowship, we’re giving up a great, great gift.
We all need partners in the gospel. In my past, when I thought of fellowship in the church setting, I would hear the theme song from the sitcom Cheers in my head:
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.
It is important for all of us to belong in a place and to know and be known, but I don’t think that is what distinguishes Christian fellowship. The thing that sets our fellowship apart, makes it holy, is that we are partners in the gospel. We fight the fight of faith together. We fight the enemy together. We pick each other up when we stumble on the battlefield. We equip each other. We train together for the race. We sharpen each other’s weapons. We witness and celebrate each other’s victories. We are God’s means of distributing grace to each other. We are more than friends – we are partners in the greatest work that ever will be!
I have many faces in my mind’s eye from our church family. Many partners. And I thank my God for each of you and make request for each of you with joy!