The Power of Partnership

The quality of your life and mine, both spiritually and emotionally, is directly proportional to the quality of the RELATIONSHIPS we have. Think about it: the more people you truly love and are loved by, the easier it is to joyfully endure the often cruel vicissitudes of life, also known as  “fiery darts.” Especially with a spouse, when things are really sweet, life is generally pretty good, and conversely, when things are acrimonious, little else in life seems right.

Of course, our vertical relationship with God and with our Lord Jesus is the key to our horizontal relationships with our families and friends. The more we love God, the more we love our neighbors. The more intimate with, and thus responsive to, our Father and our Brother we are, the more precisely we love the people in our lives. The biblical Greek word koinonia (usually translated “fellowship” or “communion”) captures the heart of what God sees as genuine friendship, and herein we will look at some pertinent uses of that word and its corresponding noun (translated “partner,” “companion,” partaker”). One of my goals is to motivate you to do whatever it takes to deepen all the relationships in your wonderful life.

Speaking of your relationship with God and the Lord Jesus, here’s a verse I failed to notice for too many years: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship [koinonia] with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). The sweetness and the benefits of our fellowship (full sharing) with the Christian brethren in our lives are commensurate with the depth of our fellowship (full sharing) with our Heavenly Father and our precious Lord. Each of us has the awesome privilege of partnering with the Creator and His Son (God & Son, Inc.) so as to help them accomplish their will on earth. That sounds rather stimulating, doesn’t it?

Here are some verses about the corporate partnership God has called you and me to have with Him and His Son.

2 Peter 1:3-4
3 According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers [koinonos] of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship [koinonia] with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The divine nature that Jesus Christ placed within you (Acts 2:32-33) enables you to intimately know him and understand what it means to follow in his steps.

Philippians 3:10
That I may know him [Christ], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship [koinonia] of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.

At least to some extent, following the Lord Jesus entails sharing in the sufferings that he endured as he stood for Truth in this twisted world. It also means sharing in the glory that will be his, and ours, at his appearing.

1 Peter 4:12-13
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate [koinoneo] in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

On the horizontal level of knitting our hearts together as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is most significant that the word koinonia appears in the following key verse, and how it is used therein:

Acts 2:42
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship [koinonia], and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

This verse describes a fundamental principle upon which the ensuing growth of Christianity was based. It shows us that genuine fellowship is based upon a likeminded belief of the truth of God’s Word. There is nothing like being “on a mission from God” with a godly friend, as follows:

2 Corinthians 8:23
As for Titus, he is my partner [koinonos] and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.

So who are your best friends? Maybe defining “friend” will help you answer that question. A dictionary says, “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.” But here are some Scripture verses that significantly add to that definition:

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Proverbs 27:9
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from his heartfelt advice.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

You could also look up the many verbs connected to the phrase “one another” in the Epistles, e.g. love, pray for, in honor prefer, be likeminded toward, care for, serve, bear burdens for, be kind to, comfort, forbear, provoke to good works, one another. To find a brother or sister in Christ who faithfully manifests these qualities is to find a great treasure, and one that we should do whatever it takes to hold onto. Who in your life is in that category? With whom do you have this kind of koinonia? What can you do to increase the number of such priceless people?

He who would have friends must be a friend. What does it take to be a true friend? Well, considering that any friend you have is beset with a sin nature that at times gets the better of him/her, I’d say you must be, among other things, loving, loyal, encouraging, truthful, honest, willing to confront, patient, forgiving, and faithful. At the bottom line, you don’t quit on someone when he/she disagrees with you or even wrongs you. Yes, there are limits/boundaries that you cannot allow to be repeatedly breached, but Romans 12:18 is a classic exhortation: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

And to partner with others in the greatest mission of all time, that of making known the truth and love of God and Christ, rescuing people from sin and death, is a joyous privilege that should energize us each day. Think about it: YOU are a PARTNER with the CREATOR, a fellow laborer with the Lord Jesus, working hand-in-hand with them to achieve their glorious purposes among mankind. They walk and talk with you now, and one day they will RICHLY REWARD you for your labor of love.

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