What is “the communion of saints”?
The “communion of saints” refers to the belief that believers, all and everyone, as members of Christ have communion with Him and share in all His treasures and gifts. As Lord’s Day 21 of the Heidelberg Catechism states, “everyone is duty-bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the benefit and well-being of the other members.”
What are Christ’s “treasures and gifts”? Of primary importance is His redeeming work, of course! However, there are other aspects: in Christ we form part of the larger “body of Christ”, which is an analogy describing how the Church (the worldwide collection of all Christians throughout time) is similar to a living being.
The second part of Lord’s Day 21 QA 55 talks about using your gifts readily and cheerfully for the benefit of the other members. What are these gifts? More often than not, they’re everyday things that help other Christians out and strengthen the relationships we have with each other: meals for a family when there’s a new baby; picking up some groceries; babysitting so that someone can have a free evening; volunteering together on a committee – and many other practical ways. In this manner, the congregation learns to work together and forms a ‘safety net’ around members when they need help.
This communion of saints isn’t constrained to the local congregation, however; mission trips to urban areas, needy parts of the USA, or overseas are occasionally undertaken, and regular support of relief efforts such as by the Canadian Reformed World Relief Fund (CRWRF) are a concrete example of how the world-wide Church is able to work together.