Once upon a time, at a church I used to attend, Pastor Dustin delivered a message on Koinonia. I used to hear that word when I was in the Lutheran Church, but hadn’t heard it in many years. It is from the Greek and is indicated in several forms in the Scriptures. Koinoneo, Koinonikos, Koinonos.
This word is so interesting because it has several different meanings and references such as partnership, participation, communicate, communion, distribution, fellowship.
There is a word close to Koinonia and it is Koinos. Koinos has the negative slant on it meaning profane, common, defiled, unclean, unholy. We cannot confuse the two.
Koinonia is a respected term, highly encouraged throughout Scripture. As Christians we should have communion and fellowship with each other. We should be able to share our burdens and our bounty. Our joys and our sorrows. That is the kind of relationship we are meant to have with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We should be able to trust and rely on those around us that share our faith in Christ. We should be acting like we are preparing for eternity with each other in Heaven. We should be acting like we really care about each other….like we really want each other to succeed spiritually and otherwise in life.
Pastor Dustin had an unusual way of approaching the Gospel message at times. Sometimes when he is witnessing to people he asks “are you SURE you want to become a Christian?” As if he is issuing a kind of warning. It is a warning. Becoming a Christian is not merely ‘fire insurance’. It is a way of life and a way unto life eternal. Narrow is the road. It is not an easy life, nor was it promised to be. Being a Christian does not guarantee a life of abundance and joy in the terms of the world. It may mean sacrifice, ridicule, heartbreak, isolation, poverty, and much more ----at least in earthly terms.
The world is cruel to the Christian and sometimes the Christian community is cruel to each other. That is why God brought Koinonia into our vocabulary. He knows what is it like trying to live for Him. He knows we need each other. When we are woven tightly together by the love of Christ, it is harder for the Enemy to break through the fabric.
As we mature in our Christian faith, we come to realize that the ‘abundant life’ as promised means far more than rubies and riches. Grace, peace, hope, strength, promise, and LOVE far more precious abound in life with Christ. And a future with God in a mansion built especially for me is well worth the effort.
So you have a new word today. Look it up in your handy Greek dictionary. Study your Bible concordance. See if you come to the same conclusions that I have. We need each other!!!
Remember the story about doing a good deed and then passing it on. Random acts of kindness…you know, touching someone else’s life and then in turn, they touch someone else, and so on and so on.
My daughter was reminded of this recently when she traveled from her home to the other side of Atlanta to a meeting. She had to leave very early in the morning to avoid the traffic, which is impossible at best. So she stopped at an IHOP for breakfast. As she pulled into the parking lot, she noticed an old (?) woman sitting on the curb. Julie became obviously aware that the woman was a homeless white woman who was trying to sleep.
Someone from the IHOP came out and told the woman, ever so gently, that she had to move. She would not be able to sleep in front of their restaurant. Another lady (a woman of color) got out of a car and walked up to the homeless lady---let me call her Sally, since I do not like repeating the phrase “homeless lady”. ‘Mrs. Black’ told Sally that she was going to buy her breakfast.
Julie watched as Sally and Mrs. Black went into the IHOP. Sally was able to order anything she wanted and a huge breakfast she had. As Julie observed she was able to hear that IHOP picked up at least some of the tab for that breakfast. Sally, who had black finger nails, shabby clothes, dirty, and could barely stay awake long enough to eat, ate ravenously. And she ate everything with her fingers, no utensils. She crammed her food in her mouth like there was no tomorrow…..and maybe there wasn’t for her.
Julie noticed Mrs. Black did give her a book of some kind and some other written information. Julie guessed that it was a phone number, maybe her own phone number. Julie was really shaken by this encounter and she called me when she finished breakfast. She could hardly speak as she re-played the scene she had witnessed. How it touched Julie’s heart. Several things were going through her mind. “Poor woman.” “How blessed am I.” “Do I do anything to help anyone?” “What can I do today to help someone?”
Where Sally went from the IHOP we do not know. We do know that she had at least one meal that day and a kind person who tried to talk with her. Where she slept that night, where her next meal will come from, and who will be the next one to care for her, are all questions unanswered.
I have no answers, no wise words to share about the homeless or for that matter any other situation where a person is in extreme need. But I am certainly glad there are still Americans out there who stop to share and care in this precarious world.
Pass it on.