The Communion of Saints

“…I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of Sins, the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting. Amen.”
— The Apostles’ Creed [1]

Making Sense of The Communion of Saints

Every time I recite the Apostles’ Creed, I’ll always get this unknown irritation when the term, “the communion of saints”, comes up. What exactly is it? Sure, Christians are all one with each other in the mystical body of Christ, but what is the “communion of saints”? I mean, the term “Communion” with the capitalized “C” meant “Holy Communion” in the Anglican liturgy [2]. But when it is used in this context, it should not simply mean the corporate partaking in the Eucharist, right?

I’ve always understood “communion” as a certain form of communication between people. A certain, intimate fellowship or rapport between people or within a group of people… Or something of that sort [2]. But then again, when I look at the stranger who always seats at the corner of the hall during service or the person who has greatly hurt me in the past, I think to myself if I have “communion” with them… Nah, this can’t be!

The Communion of Saints is something that is hidden, yet so important. So important that it must be reaffirmed in a creed.

Then I think again if it referred to “fellowship” (as in the Christian activity where people gather together). Sure, when we go to fellowship, we are “together” physically… But that does not mean we have a “close rapport” or an “intimate relationship” with one another, right? Surely, that must not be the case. There’s no rapport, let alone “communion”.

Surely, there must be something else that is hidden in this whole mystery of the church — something that is so important yet so mystical that it must be reaffirmed in a creed…

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
— Acts 4:13, NIV.

Within my very short span of time in ministry, I’ve dedicated my time to serving and to find out about the Truth in God’s Hidden Kingdom — the Kingdom that existed beyond the walls of the physical church. And lo and behold, I’ve come to a struggling ministry in a developing area in Malaysia. Its ministry is so unique and strong that it faces an unmatched level of persecutions from the society as well as from the local church. The leader of the ministry is a young girl in her twenties. She does not have a family and has not completed her secondary school education. However, whenever she shared about her plans and the needs of the community, her eyes will sparkle with passion as tears roll down her cheeks.

This plan, generally speaking, is a practical response to Biblical teachings. It builds on the idea about how believers should live together as one; where all needs are met — a safe haven for all believers whatever the future may bring.

So, what has this plan got to do with the “communion of saints”?

Everything.

Only recently, I was in a meeting with some high-profile pastors of the region where some of them shared about their plan in another part of the world. Turns out, the idea behind the plan was entirely the same. From the most minute of details to the overall structure of its operation. Every single aspect of the plan is the same.

“The Communion of Saints can only be experienced through the complete obedience to Christ as the Head of the Body.”

I guess, the most fascinating thing about this incident is that both parties have never met each other, let alone spoken about this in its entirety.

Surely, this is the communion of saints and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that gave them such communion and common knowledge. This intimate relationship between believers can only be explained by the communion of the Holy Spirit. It can only be experienced through the complete obedience to Christ as the head of the Body. It is this obedience that will point us to do what He has called us to do in our respective places.

Remember, the leader of the ministry in rural Malaysia hasn’t had secondary school education. She grew up in a developing city and do not have access to university education, let alone having tertiary education for management. Yet, she was able to come out with a ministry that high-profile pastoral leaders are working on. They both shared so much passion and love for the community that leaves all who knew them shattered.

 Surely, this is the Holy Spirit at work, educating the elect in a way no one can truly understand.

“The Communion of Saints is a fellowship with God Himself.”

Indeed, the Spirit is working hard to call different people from different places to accomplish the very same thing in different parts of the world; all in the name of the gospel. This is the communion of saints and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It is a fellowship that transcends space and time. It is a fellowship that binds the living and the dead. It is a fellowship with God Himself. It is a fellowship that should be adored.

There is such a thing as the “Communion of Saints”, and I believe in it.

Praise be to God.

 

Footnotes:

[1] — http://anglicansonline.org/basics/apostles.html

[2] — https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/communion

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