When I was attending the University of Illinois way back in the late 80's, I lived in a Christian fraternity house on campus called Koinonia, which happens to be the Greek word for fellowship. Let me tell you, thirty college guys living under the same roof was a unique (and sometimes downright frightening) experience.
However, looking back on some of the experiences I had in the "Koin" house has made me appreciate the significance of biblical community.
Deep, authentic relationships based in the power of God's Spirit have a tremendous, lasting impact on our lives. In fact, just yesterday I had a lengthy phone conversation with one of my roommates from the "Koin" house, a longtime friend and best man at my wedding who is now serving as the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Southern Illinois. As we reminisced about the Koinonia days and some of the crazy things that happened in the house, our memories were also drawn to the times we gathered together for Bible study and prayer. We would often spend time talking and dreaming about what God could do with our lives. The relationship I established with this friend years ago at the U of I is still impacting me to this day and it is a joy to know that we are partners in the gospel, even if we are living many miles apart.
In Acts 2:42-47, Luke writes about the early church community:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
As I reflect on these verses, I am moved by the thought of more and more people being saved every day as they observe the unified, loving, and generous community of believers called the church. The early church was expanding in a spontaneous, supernatural way. In his book, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, author Roland Allen defines the dynamic phrase captured in the book's title:
This then is what I mean by spontaneous expansion. I mean the expansion which follows the unexhorted and unorganized activity of individual members of the Church explaining to others the Gospel which they have found for themselves; I mean the expansion which follows the irresistible attraction of the Christian Church for men who see its ordered life, and are drawn to it by desire to discover the secret of a life which they instinctively desire to share...
In a world where people are more "connected" than ever before through social media, there is also the feeling that people are more disconnected than ever before from meaningful, transformative relationships. The connectedness that many people are experiencing in the virtual world is not facilitating an Acts 2 biblical community. In reality, the more "high tech" the world becomes, the greater the opportunity for the church to provide "high touch" relationships.
Are you committed to koinonia? Do you value face-to-face interactions more than Facebook communication? When is the last time you met someone for lunch or invited someone into your home for a meal? One of the greatest ways the church can move forward in mission in the world is by modeling relationships that are based in the radical love, grace, and hospitality of God.
Here's an assignment for you: Grab lunch with someone! Have some FaceLook time. It's Biblical...and fun!