As we approach Memorial Day weekend, we remember those men and women in our armed forces who gave their lives for our freedom. As a nation, we remember their sacrifice with gratitude and awe. In a spiritual sense, we can also use this Memorial Day to remember those who have given their all to the faith. Martyr saints of both the past and present have followed Christ’s example of ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. From these examples, and from the same power of the Holy Spirit that we share, we should be inspired to consider our own willingness to sacrifice those things we hold most dear for others.
In Acts 2, Luke references that the early believers were sacrificially devoted towards fellowship. They allowed nothing to impede their fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship used by Luke goes deeper than most common ideas of fellowship. This was not merely a group founded on geographical likeness, social similarities, or even a common goal. The idea of Koinonia dives deeper and describes a warm, inviting fellowship that is founded upon complete trust. The Greek word, “Koinonia” was often used to describe fellowship in the sense of marriage. It intends to express an intimacy that exists among believers and is used 18 times to describe the church. You cannot organize Koinonia.
Humans cannot synthesize, energize, or manipulate Kiononia. It has to be impressed upon by the power of the Holy Spirit. How does one engage in fellowship? Perhaps the best definition of fellowship comes from the apostolic writer John who states: “
That which we have seen and heard we also proclaim to you so that you may have fellowship (Koinonia) with us
.” It grows only out of the collective experience that happens with the Lord Jesus Christ who creates an inward transformation within fellowship. It creates a lasting unity.
The ramifications of this transformative fellowship can only find definition in the example of the early church: “
And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
At the center of this entire central tenet of Koinonia is a self-sacrifice – a willingness to do whatever it takes for the sake of my siblings in Christ. Their example is not merely some hint at some social or political system. The way of Christ supersedes communism or capitalism, it surpasses socialism or democracy – the fellowship of Jesus Christ is transcendent to human reason. It gives all for the sake of all.
Are you willing to lay down your life for another? The fullness of fellowship in Christ calls for a commitment to exhibit a transcendent kind of love that demonstrates itself towards all people. In a smaller sense, yet no lesser, what can you give up for someone else to bring unity into the body of Christ? Christ does not necessarily call you to go take a bullet for someone today, but what is something you could live without to give someone else a glimpse of true fellowship. A cup of coffee from Starbucks? An extravagant dinner? A $15.00 movie? Start sacrificing small things – you will learn that forgoing the big things can come with greater reward later. Above all, it creates a unified witness for our needy world. We’ll talk about that more this Sunday.
Expecting His Best,
Stephen V. Allen