Life Lesson #8: Seek deep and long lasting communion with other Christian believers
I pray that your partnership (koinonia) with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Philemon 1:6
When I began my Christian journey, I didn’t have any Christian friends. My parents were not Christians either. My husband had grown up in the faith but wasn’t really connected at the time. My only real guides were my in-laws, who I saw infrequently because they lived in another state. I relied heavily on the once a week lessons taught by the pastor. If it didn’t make sense to me, I just figured I was not smart enough or even faithful enough to understand. I wasn’t encouraged to attend a church Bible study until much later in my journey while at another church.
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. Acts 2:46-47
My BSGs just finished the Bible study book, Everyday Theology. In the week study titled “Church” we were asked to read the verse above and then talk about what makes a “good” church. What we all included was a type of fellowship that goes beyond just being friends. In various places of the Bible the Greek word “koinonia” is used. That’s the kind of partnership or communion we saw as being important as a Christian.
koinōnía (a feminine noun) – properly, what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community), the share which one has in anything, participationStrong’s Concordance
If you search the word, “koinonia,” it’s interesting to see that it’s attributed to Christian fellowship. Meaning we are again set apart with a special communion and partnership with each other. We are to take responsibility for spurring each other on in our sanctification journey. We show each other love and truth.
In his letter to Philemon, Paul starts out reminding Philemon of the importance of koinonia and how he has seen it at work in the Colossian church – the church which met regularly in Philemon’s home. Why does he remind Philemon? Because Paul is about to ask him for a favor – one that will reveal the true state of Philemon’s heart. He asks for the forgiveness and accepting back of a man who stole from him.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Hebrews 10:24
How many of us have surrounded ourselves with fellow believers who will help us in our pruning journey? Not just a nice, “hello” at church or even an occasional dinner date with some church friends. But a true, deep partnership with people we know have the same measuring stick as their guide. With people we know that won’t give up on us and we won’t give up on them?
As I look back at the beginnings of my faith journey, I see the times I really could’ve used a few Christian friends. Instead, my circle helped me, even encouraged me, to live a life which God would not be pleased. And when I was truly in need I was frequently abandoned.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
I had a friend in college that I saw almost every day because we had a lot of the same classes. We studied together and ate together. One day I came upon her at a grassy area on campus with some other students. She was smoking a cigarette. I had never seen her smoke before! I asked her about it and she said, “Oh ya, when I’m around my friends from Spain I smoke all the time!” We have to admit that our friends (and family) have some influence over us. So, in the choosing, as Christians, we are advised by Jesus and the apostles to choose wisely.
That’s not to say we aren’t to have non-believers in our lives. Those are the folks God has put in front of us to bring to Him! But we should actively seek out koinonia with other believers. They are the ones with whom we should feel safe when we need to confess our sins. They are the ones who can help us to show grace and forgiveness. They are the ones who will show us compassion. We know this because they are on the same faith journey as us.
For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them. Matthew 18:20
So often we make our friends by chance – through our kids or spouses or through a hobby or activity. When was the last time you sat down and evaluated your friendship circle? When was the last time you actively worked to build a different circle?
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:7
Fellowship, koinonia, with other believers helps bring us closer to the love, joy, and grace that God wants for us. I’m thankful that I have built a small group of friends that hold my feet to the fire and will also wash my feet when I am in need – and I am willing to do the same for them. I started building this circle by first joining a Bible study and then offering to lead one. I found myself then helping create Bible study curriculum and joining other church committees. Each time, I gathered up more Christian friends. Until finally, I asked a couple ladies at my gym, whom I had heard talking about church, if they’d like to do a Bible study with me. And so my BSGs (Bible Study Girls) were formed. Each God-directed step has taken me closer to koinonia, not only with fellow believers but, with the Holy Spirit.
If you don’t have fellow Christian friends, today is the day to pray that God will send you in the right direction. And when He opens the door, step through it.