Give Thanks As We Share Koinonia
By Rev Stera Chan
December 17, 2023
“Now, let’s go into our groups and have devotional sharing!”
“Let’s check on her. We have not seen her at church for a while!”
“Remember to sign up for Christmas caroling and outreach!”
These and other similar words among the English congregation this year remind me of how the late Rev. John Stott explained the threefold aspect of Christian fellowship (koinonia in Greek) in One People: Christians are to share in a common inheritance in God’s salvation in which we have all come by grace through faith, share out a common service as we partner with others in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and share with each other in a common accountability as we love, serve and keep watch over one another.
I am always thankful that the fellowship groups in the English Ministry (EM) have regular Bible study and devotional sharing that brothers and sisters can feed upon Christ together in and through His word. But these are not enough for both the individuals and the faith community to grow.
The Apostle Paul gave thanks for the Thessalonian Christians not only for their flourishing faith but also their increasing love for one another (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Indeed, love is hard work. In the same fellowship, challenges may come and tensions may arise when brothers and sisters have different financial statuses, go through different life stages, etc. It requires members to take intentional effort to consider the situation of others and “work out the differences” in a way that exhibits the love of God, which can be a difficult lesson to learn. Give thanks to God that brothers and sisters’ love for each other is growing, and they need to continually rely on His grace, wisdom and power to live out His commandment to love one another.
And how could we stop giving thanks to God? He has prepared evangelistic and outreach opportunities for us, especially since the pandemic restrictions were lifted early this year. We have resumed our annual short-term mission trip and Christmas caroling, and our young adult fellowship had held a thanksgiving dinner with evangelistic purpose at church. Together with the newly formed Evangelism Team and the evangelism page of the EM website, it is my prayer that brothers and sisters will be united in their efforts to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ both locally and around the world.
It is easy to give thanks to God when things are going well, but not so when life is treating us badly. Let us remember the exhortation of the Bible to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, italics mine). That is why thankfulness is a spiritual discipline which we all need to practice and develop. May “thankfulness to God” be the pure motivation, the uniting force and the God-glorifying purpose of the English congregation and the NPAC family as we practice koinonia with His enabling power.