26 Feb Koinonia. Part 2
Continuing with the commission to make disciples and connecting it with how spiritual authority is founded upon love, one way we will know who we are called to help disciple is by a love that God gives us for them. If I don’t feel a special love for a person, I won’t try to disciple them. I will consider that God has called someone else to help them. The same is true of nations.
I do not go to a nation just because I receive an invitation. I only go after God has given me a special love for that nation, as well as something to give them. When I start feeling drawn to a nation, I begin to study its culture, history, etc. Still, I do not go until I feel the Lord has given me a message that can help them and leave fruit that will remain.
When I was a new Christian, I was so fascinated by God that I was constantly going to any meeting that I thought would teach me more about Him. For the first two years that I was a Christian, I probably attended an average of at least five meetings per week. Just anticipating what I might learn when a special teacher or speaker would come to town was better than Christmas to me, and I was rarely disappointed. This led me to a house church. Since I had been born again and baptized in the Spirit in a house church, I was especially interested in visiting another one. That meeting was so rich that I kept coming back. This is where I first experienced koinonia.
Koinonia is the Greek word often translated “fellowship” or “communion” in the New Testament. Neither of these words is really adequate for what koinonia really is. It implies a bonding together into a unit in such a way that separation is not possible. True church life is intended to be a bond that strong, but this will only be bondageif it is not built on Christ. If built on Christ as the Head, it is like no other relationship or association on earth.
This house church where I first experienced koinonia was in Richmond, Virginia. It was loosely connected to a group of house churches in the Washington, D.C. area. As I got to know this group better, I was introduced to the greatest vision of what the body of Christ is supposed to be that I have yet heard. It was also demonstrated in these churches. Every member of this group operated in gifts of the Spirit and a ministry. It was as close to a fulfillment of the Ephesians 4 mandate that I have yet witnessed as well.
The fellowship in these house churches was greater than any kind of fellowship I had experienced before, even better than the special camaraderie experienced in a unit in the military. It was not just because we were getting close to one another as people, but because the Lord was present when we gathered. Regardless of how good the teaching, ministry, or fellowship, every meeting was an encounter with the Lord. We knew He was in our midst. This bonded us together like nothing else could.
This was a rich, fulfilling, and exciting church life. We could not wait to gather together. It was biblical koinonia. My time with those house churches only lasted about two years before I was sent out. Yet to this day when I see anyone from those churches, I feel a special bond with them.
When I moved from Richmond to Raleigh, North Carolina, I immediately sought out the house churches there. There were many. Again, I found a bond with members close to what I had experienced in Richmond and Washington and, for a time, maybe even more so. I have since been a member of a number of churches and fellowships and have visited and spoken in countless others. Many do have a wonderful unity and fellowship, but I think true church life—koinonia, the way God intended church life to be—is very rare.
As we are told in I Corinthians 10-11, this koinonia is vital for a healthy, thriving Christian life. It must be restored for the church to come into its full purpose. We will never attain it by just attending meetings a couple of times a week where we sit and look at the back of each other’s heads. These services can be very useful for teaching, vision casting, corporate worship, etc., but we will never attain koinonia without building the church life on small groups. This is the crucial issue we will cover over the next few weeks.