Symbiotic Relationships In Church


Years ago my uncle had a small fishbowl with a Beta fish and a plant growing on top. He said it was a symbiotic relationship where they both benefit from the environment. When I studied up on symbiotic relationships, I found that there were four types. The first type is parasitism where one side benefits from the relationship (the parasite) while the other side is affected negatively. The second type is commensalism where one side benefits, but the other side is not harmed. The third type is amensalism where one side is not affected by the relationship, but the other side suffers because of the harmful, chemical compounds released by the first. The last type of symbiotic relationship is mutualism where both sides benefit from the relationship. All four of these exist in nature, but they also exist in our churches.

Ever since the Early Church began, it was designed to be a mutualism symbiotic relationship. The Greek word used was Koinonia which referred to community, fellowship and joint participation where people shared what they had with each other. Because people are involved in church, it got derailed and is often derailed to this day. Church does not exist to feed you believe it or not. When I hear the phrase, “I’m just not get fed there,” it’s usually coming from someone who approaches church as a parasitism symbiotic relationship. They want to be fed without contributing. When they feel they aren’t being fed, they either leave or create a amensalism relationship where they try to harm the pastor or other. As James 3:10 put it, these things ought not to be.

Ephesians 4 talks a lot about the Church and the relationships. It gives the responsibilities of the five fold ministries, but it also gives the parishioners their’s too. Verse 16 says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (NLT). Jesus puts us together in Koinonian fellowship, but if we don’t do our part in the relationship, the body isn’t healthy or growing. Each of us have the responsibility in our own church to make the body healthy. Your church should be better because you’re in it with the gifts God has given you. If you’re not contributing to your local body with a mutualism approach, you fall into one of the other types of symbiotic relationships that is not beneficial to the Church and are not doing what God requires of you. If you find you’re in one of the other types, reach out to your pastor this week to find out where they think you can be most beneficial to that body of believers.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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