”I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1: 3-11
It is clear from this passage that Paul believed that he was in partnership with the believers he was serving. The Greek word for partnership used here is koinonia and it clearly means fellowship and partnership. It also means mutual participation. Paul did not support the idea of hierarchical leadership or a Clergy/Laity division. No, he believed in total mutuality in the body of Christ. He knew that he was partners with the believers that he served. There was no Spiritual caste system that elevated one believer over others. Paul’s Spirit inspired writings do not support a system that places a Pastor over the rest of the flock. Paul considered everyone in the body to be equal in Christ and he knew that every believer was a minister of the gospel.
Paul had a real heartfelt connection with the church in Philippi. He held the church there in his heart and he had great affection for them. If you get the chance read Acts 16 and it will tell you of Paul’s visit there. It was there that he encountered a group of women praying by a river, that included Lydia a leading businesswoman in that region. The Lord opened up Lydia’s heart to Paul’s message and then Lydia opened her home to Paul and Silas. (my youngest daughter is named Lydia) Soon afterwards Paul and Silas end up getting stripped and flogged and thrown into jail. While in jail Paul and Silas just prayed and sang to God until an earthquake shakes the whole Jail. The jailer thinking that the prisoners had escaped was going to kill himself until Paul informed him that no one had left the jail. Because of this the jailer and his whole family came to The Lord. Then before leaving the city Paul and Silas return to Lydia’s home and they encouraged everyone before they left town. Of major note in this passage is how important women are in the whole scope of things and also how the early believers met in homes. It seems that when one opened their heart to Jesus their home was automatically open for fellowship also.
Paul had a partnership with those he served and he realized how important it is to have a real connection with other believers. He prayed that love would abound in them, more and more, in both knowledge and depth of insight. He wanted his fellow believers to be able to discern what was best for themselves, instead of being THE ONE who always had to tell them what to do. Paul equipped other believers, but he also wanted them to be able to function on their own without him. To Paul the church is supposed to be mutual and participatory. Paul’s message was NOT.. I will LEAD and you will follow. No, it was that God will LEAD and we ALL will follow. As in “follow me as I follow Christ.” So to me partnership, koinonia, fellowship and mutual participation is the way to go if you really want a healthy church.
Love and ……
Kirk Out !