Koinonia

Don’t you love Greek words? There’s a reason they say, “It’s Greek to me!” A Greek word means nothing to us until it’s explained and, suddenly, a whole new meaning to a commonly used English word emerges. So here we go…

Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship. It is so often misunderstood, though. Traditionally, in our church circles anyway, fellowship is used for the time after evening church when people sip coffee and eat apple pie. It’s what happens in the casual minutes after a Sunday school class as people are sharing how horrible or wonderful their week was. Fellowship is often considered to be casual conversation, superficial interactions, and planned events.

The root word for koinonia means “to participate, partner, or have intimate interactions.” It conveys the idea that there is common ownership of one another’s lives and experiences, victories and defeats, good times and deep struggles, fun and hard work. It is a picture of people doing life together. One of the most accurate descriptions of koinonia is found in Acts 2, where it states that “all the believers were of one mind and had all things in common.” In contrast to the motif of life in suburban America where individualism is king, the early church considered interdependence essential to living life in a Christ-honoring way.

I was just thinking about the numerous variations of koinonia I experienced yesterday…

  • Seeking wisdom and advice from a close friend and trusted adviser. These were conversations of confession, honesty, encouragement, and practical advice.
  • The laughter and fun of having breakfast in bed with my wife AND son. They made me an amazing omelet, fantastic coffee, many other fixings, and then spoiled me by serving me in bed. Of course, it WAS my birthday, but it was great stuff!
  • Spontaneous time with a crazy (and fun) neighbor who “dropped in” on us. She ran over in her robe and slippers and stayed for three hours! There were moments of tears, hugs, laughter, goofy conversation, serious conversation, food and drink, dreaming together, and encouraging one another. Wonderful!
  • The arrival of a soul-friend who came to help us get rid of boxes and boxes of used books. Just her presence is ministry. She oozes love and laid a little of that on us again yesterday. And, of course, she and Susan carried lots of boxes, bringing them to Half Price Books for a little cash.
  • A delicious home-made meal and great conversation with a  rare and godly young couple. They invited us over for dinner. They honored us, blessed us, fed us (Wow! it was yummy!), and encouraged us. We ended up praying together, hugging a little, and treasuring this pair more than ever.

This was ONE DAY of koinonia. Each encounter enabled us to experience God in different ways. And each encounter fed us, blessed us, strengthened us, and filled us with Holy Spirit power.

I was reminded yesterday of what a treasure koinonia is. I am a rich man indeed!