Abiding in Koinonia Identity
During some reading in the book called True Community by Jerry Bridges, I came across something that stuck out regarding koinonia. This New Testament Greek word is where we get the idea of Christian community, however, it also carries a depth to it’s meaning foundational to understanding the beauty of true community. This foundational community I speak of exists between God Himself and us His creation. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Peter 1:4; and 1 John 1:3 all use the term koinonia (fellowship) to speak of redeemed humanity’s identity under Christ.
How do we now as believers in Jesus live out this koinonia fellowship with our God? Or another way of phrasing it, what does abiding in Christ look like (John 15:5)? When we approach this regular abiding, we do so not out of special effort in worship, prayer, and Bible reading (all important). Rather, Scripture’s teaching sees abiding as an identity issue where we must regularly remind ourselves of our redeemed identity.
The Puritan John Owen wrote on this, “We do not have the ability in ourselves to accomplish the least of God’s tasks. This is a law of grace. When we recognize it is impossible for us to perform a duty in our own strength, we will discover the secret of its accomplishment. But alas, this is a secret we often fail to discover.”
Owen further commented on this abiding regarding Galatians 2:20, “The spiritual life which I have is not my own. I did not induce it, and I cannot maintain it. It is only and solely the work of Christ. It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me. My whole life is His alone.” As a follower of Jesus, we are literally in Christ. Paul teaches this new identity in Romans 6. John 15 teaches the analogy of a vine and it’s literal attached branches gaining nourishment. We as Christians are literal branches with the identity of being connected to the Divine Vine. Understood this way, Scripture exhorts us to abide in Christ as an active continual faith decision of seeing ourselves as we really are… new creatures redeemed as literal branches outflowing from Jesus.
Jerry Bridges comments, “I frequently talk to sincere, committed Christians who admit to a dry and mechanical aspect in their quiet times, for example. This is often a result of a subtle dependence on their own discipline rather than a dependence on Christ. We ought to begin our quiet time with the heartfelt prayer, ‘Lord, You must enable me to worship You and commune with You today. Without You, my mind is dead and my heart is stone.’”
True koinonia community/fellowship with God is a wondrous reality that we must continue by faith to realize as our daily reality. I think of Paul’s application to the Romans (Romans 12) to continually present their bodies as living sacrifices by continually renewing their minds. So too for us, abiding in Jesus involves good stuff like Scripture reading, prayer, and worship. But, foundational to these important disciplines is the critical role of seeing and embracing your new miraculous koinonia identity. Thus, as we approach Bible reading, prayer, worship, and just life in general, may we cry for God to enable our hearts and minds and see by faith the ongoing reality of our koinonia standing in Christ. Armed with this understanding, let us live this life in and for Christ.
In Christ by Faith,
inspired from… Jerry Bridges, True Community, pages, 19-32.