That sounds like the kind of question a doctor might ask you, doesn’t it? “Mr. Johnson, has your koinonia been acting up lately?” Or, “Mrs. Smith, take two pills daily and it should help take care of that koinonia problem you’ve got.”
While it may sound like it, koinonia is not a disease or an aillment. On the contrary, it is something found among the healthiest of people. In fact, if you don’t have koinonia, you may be more unhealthy than you realize.
This all begs the question, then, what is koinonia? The word is…
…an English transliteration of a Greek noun. The Greek word koinonia has a rich and theologically deep meaning related to fellowship. It is a word used to describe true and real friendships. A koinonios is someone you know in a deep and personal way. If two people have koinonia together, they share in each other’s lives. They not only know each other’s names, but they know each other’s cares, burdens, passions, goals, and walk.
In fact, in Greek literature, outside of the New Testament, this is a word often used when referring to the marital relationship. Husbands and wives aren’t suppose to merely cohabitate, they should have koinonia in marriage. However, within the New Testament koinonia is used to refer to a different relationship. It is used repeatedly for how believers within the church relate to one another.
While there are many New Testament uses, koinonia is particularly used in conjunction with two main Christian pursuits.
Koinonia is about Communion.
By communion, here, I mean the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 10:16 asks,
“Is not the bread which we break a sharing (koinonia) in the body of Christ?”
In fact, this verse is where we get the term “communion” from. It means sharing. This is what the Lord’s Supper is about. Through it, we not only have koionia with each other but we also have it with Christ. 1 Cor 1:9 says
“God… called [you] into koinonia (fellowship) with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Lord’s Supper is not an empty religious ritual. It is an edible, taste-bud engaging reminder that we all have a share in Jesus. We may not all live in the same kind of houses. We may not all make the same kind of money. We may not all enjoy the same hobbies. But at the Lord’s table we are reminded that we all have the same Savior! We share together in Christ. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
The Lord’s Supper is one way that helps us build our sense of koinonia together. Do you make plans to attend our church communion celebrations? Do you appreciate the oneness and unity that we share in Jesus? Celebrating communion is one way to work on your own koinonia.
Koinonia is about Community.
Acts 2:42 says that the church “dedicated themselves to…the koinonia” or to “fellowship”. The early church of Acts went well beyond mere “foyer friendliness” within the church. They did more than just shake hands and smile during the required “Meet and Greet” portion of the Sunday morning service. They spent time with each other. They invited other church families into their own homes. They ate meals together. They laughed together. They even cried together. Their lives intersected outside of the walls of the church building. The early church did meet on Sundays but they also spent time with each other on Tuesdays, Fridays and other days of the week. In other words, they had close, personal friendships.
John Donne once said, “No man is an island.” But too often we are guilty of trying to become one. We like our privacy. We like our independence. While all of us do need some “alone time”, we also need some “together time” with our church family.
Believers need time to be authentic with one another and build lasting, caring relationships. This is God’s desire for his church, even for us as Forest Baptist Church. He wants us to build community. Are your closest, personal friends those from the church? They should be. Are you making the effort to get to know others sitting around you? Do you have them in your home? Are you willing to be vulnerable and honest in conversation? God wants us to build our koinonia through close contact and personal friendships.
So, now that you know a little of what it is, let me ask you again, “How’s your koinonia?”
If your koinonia’s not great, there’s no pill to take or shot to get. The best treatment for poor koinonia is getting connected to others in the body of Christ. Why not start today by introducing yourself to someone new? Why not find another family and makes plans for dinner some evening? A doctor can’t improve your koinonia. Your pastor can’t either. Only you can do something about it. Why not start right now?