Saturday, June 5, 2010

Koinonia: On Christian Community vs. Isolation

Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel as though I need people.  On a certain level, I find that being around people brings a sense of freedom.  It allows me to take a step outside of myself (even if ever so briefly) and interact with others, considering them rather than me.

I believe community with others is one of the things that makes me a better Christian.  It is only when I am around people that I have to actively "hold my tongue" from speaking every foolish word that comes to my mind.  It is only in community that I have to deliberately put others first, considering them better than myself.  It is only in community that I am forced to love and be loved, to give of myself, and to learn how to be sensitive to the needs of others.  

I believe this is the reason Jesus encouraged community during his life here on earth.  Not only did he encourage it, he lived it out.  He created community wherever he went.  He allowed himself to not only rub elbows with the people around him, but to rub hearts.   

The word Koinonia is used to describe community in the Greek New Testament.  It is defined as "intimate participation" with others.

I don't know what your experience has been, but Koinonia is something that has been missing in my view of Westernized Christianity.  We have watered down "intimate participation" to the point where we consider community shaking the hand of the person in the pew next to us at church (and only when we are prompted to do so, mind you), and then going on our way.  I hardly call that intimate. 

We have lost something in the transition of generations, we have lost the giving and receiving of self...and in the process, we have lost a piece of Christ Jesus.

There is something powerful about joining with other believers.  There is something unexplainable that happens when God's spirit is united in men and women of different shapes, sizes and colors.  You see, we weren't made to do this Christian life alone, yet for some reason we keep trying.  

The people in Acts were filled with joy, praise, and gladness in their community while many American Christians are filled with loneliness, isolation, complaints, and dullness in their faith because they are trying to do it alone. 

It's not a personality type, or the difference between an introvert and an extrovert.  It's not a matter of location, schedules, or obligations.  Those are just likely excuses. We were all made for community if we allow ourselves to take a few steps outside of ourselves and try to live life Christ's way.

So go the extra mile.  Introduce yourself, make that phone call, invite them over for dinner, open your home to others, give of what you have to those who need it, do what it takes, but at the end of the day, seek to live a life of Koinonia, a life of intimate participation, a life of giving of yourself.


  1. I find myself really looking forward to your new blog posts. You've got a lot of really good things to say and I appreciate that you are willing to share. I don't know about others, but I often find myself really needing people to give me gentle reminders about how to live a good Christian life on a daily basis.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts B...and for reading! It's good to know some of these ramblings are being put to good use:)


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