“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The message from this past Sunday covered the subject of Communion. In that talk, we sorted through this massive Biblical topic tapering to some commonly accepted truths within the Christian ethos. 1. Christ is present in the Eucharist. 2. We are proclaimers of and partakers in the body and blood of Christ when we observe the Eucharist.
The word “participation” which Paul uses in the 1 Corinthians passage above opened a door for me this week. “Participation” is in line with word “partaking”. When we participate, we partake, when we partake, we share a common experience. In fact, common sharing is a requirement of participating.
So my question is: Are there other things of the Biblical Christian experience in which we “partake”?
The greek word for “participate” is koinonia which can also be translated as “generous sharing” or “fellowship”. Another way of looking at koinonia is to think of all the things we hold in common as a result of our faith in Jesus.
If the subject of “partaking” is approached this way, then the list of commonly shared experiences of Christians around the world becomes endless and diverse.
Here are just a few…
- The Apostles teaching, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42)
- Resources for the relief of the saints (2 Corinthians 8:4)
- The Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14)
- The spread of the Gospel (Philippians 1:3-5)
- The power of Christ’s resurrection, His sufferings and His death (Philippians 3:10)
- The Father Himself (1 John 1:3)
- The light of God and cleansing of sin (1 John 1:7)
- Gathering for the worship of Jesus (Hebrews 10:25)
Acts 2:44 sums it up. “All the believers were together and had everything in common” (NIV84)
So this is good! It’s comforting to know that believers in Christ have a commonality among us beyond the human experience and into the divine. Believers are all on the same team.
Another question: How can I, or “we” if you’ll join me, become facilitators or enablers of this good partaking? If partaking is required in the Christian experience, I think we should head in that direction together, right?
Can we agree to eliminate the barriers and create pathways for the good partaking that comes from our relationship with Jesus? Can we aim to better understand how the collection of believers in Christ are a Church of participation?
In order to do this, some widespread things in the modern Church which block paths to participation must be removed.
Consumer Church: This dynamic is about producing a “Church Experience Product” for people to buy into and consume. This dynamic stifles or interferes with participation. (see these articles in Christianity Today & Leadership Journal for more details on Consumer Church.)
Age, Gender & Racial Gaps: The Christian elderly are deep wells of maturity and experience. Those young and in Christ are attuned to the needs, thoughts and fears of their peers. Men and Women are equal bearers and sharers of God’s image. All races are called to the feet of Jesus.
Rigidity: God is a God of order, but also a God in the moment. We cannot create stuffy, stifled and formalized environments to the suffocation of the Holy Spirit.
Impulsivity: God is a God in the moment, but also a God of order. We cannot create random, confusing and disorganized environments where substance is absent and chaos reigns.
Useless Denominationalism: The nooks and crannies of Christianity hold disparaging differences of beliefs that pale in light of the “big beliefs” of Christians the world over. We must focus more on what’s common between Christian tribes and less on the small things that separate us.
This list is intimidating, but can you add? I am energized by the image of one Church participating in the goodness and rightness of God. But as participation goes, it will take all of us to carry the ball forward.
May God bless us as we become more complete participants in Him through Jesus Christ.