Monday, October 22, 2007

The Importance of Fellowship

Koinonia is often translated as fellowship. How important is fellowship? How important is getting together with other people?

Scientists have studied the longevity of married people versus singles. They have found in every study that married people live longer than people that never marry. They have found that married people have fewer health problems. Now does this mean that a wedding ceremony instantly wipes away illness? No way. The root of the problem is isolation and loneliness.

Think back to when you were in high school. What was your greatest desire? For most of us, it was to belong. We wanted somewhere where we felt like we were a necessary part of a group. Why do you think kids join gangs? To feel like a necessary piece of a puzzle. To feel camaraderie. To belong.

Houses used to be built close together. They had big front porches and front lawns where entire neighborhoods would gather and chat. Folks would sit and greet their neighbors as they returned home. They would sit and share a drink and chat. They would slow down and relax, and invest in the lives of their neighbors. Ever been sick and wishing for a steaming bowl of chicken soup? Neighbors knew when someone was sick, and would look in on them.

Today front porches have been replaced with back decks. Today people want more land, more privacy, higher fences, gated neighborhoods, and bigger houses so they never have to go outside. Everything they need is at their fingertips, in their nice, climate controlled environment. Even the outside hot tub has been replaced with a jetted tub in the privacy of their own bathroom. They don't even walk out to get their mail. They drive the car close to the box, blocking traffic, so they never have to get out of their car.

We complain about how people in the stores are so RUDE. What do we expect? They have no socialization skills, because they never socialize. It is a fact that isolation builds self-centeredness. People have forgotten that other people go through trials just like they do. That is why support groups have become so popular. Deep down we all desire fellowship. We all desire to be a part of something. We all desire to share our hopes and dreams, and struggles with other people.

It was always my dream to buy a big chunk of land, and build a big log house in the middle of the woods. Ahhh, completely silent, but for the sounds of nature. But the more I think about fellowship, the more that big chunk of land and woods seems like a box to me. The thought of having a really neat place, and no one else but my family to share it with, somehow seems inadequate. And then, I think, how will I be able to teach my children about sharing and giving, if I am hoarding, saying 'all this is ours', not theirs.

I want to live close to my neighbors, and have a big front porch with a free soda machine on it. That way everyone with stop by for a drink and a chat. I hope I get so busy chatting that we are forced to eat sandwiches every night for supper, because I got nothing accomplished. That would be living life.

Lately, there have been stories of kids killing. There have been stories of kids claiming their own lives. Do you think these kids had a feeling of belonging? Do you think they had a strong history of fellowship? Do you think they sat around and chatted on the porch with their neighbors? Or do you think they felt isolated? Alone? Different? Misunderstood? Do you think they were loners who sat quietly and unnoticed at school, and came home and shut themselves in their own rooms with their own thoughts?

I want to show my children that the stories in the Bible are not mere stories of what people did long ago, but a blueprint for how we should live our lives. I want to show them that it is possible, in the modern world, to live like Christ. I want to show them that miracles can again be commonplace. I want to show them how to change the news. I want to show them that they are an important piece of the puzzle, and an impact on the lives of others. And I don't want to just tell them about it, I want them to see it in action by the way we live.

11 comments:

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Great food for thought...and so very true.

Lisa said...

This is so good! You have me thinking.

Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

Very true - we all say we want fellowship, but aren't willing to put ourselves out of our comfort zone to get it. I liked what you had to say very much. Thanks.

Rev Colin said...

Hi Natalie,
I found your site through the 'Enjoy the Journey' blog, and how glad I am that I visited you! In fact, so impressed that I have posted about you on my blog for today, and quoted a bit of your blog entry as a taster, which I'm sure you wouldn't mind me doing.

Keep up the good work, for by our witness we are best known.

Heidi said...

Lots of excellent things to think about in this post! Thank you.

I'm an introvert who just moved out to the country, but I have an extroverted husband and three outgoing little boys. I want them to be thoughtful, kind, and full of love for their neighbors. There are so many ways to go about this even when you live out in the country.... visiting nursing homes, volunteering for local food drives, sponsoring needy children around the world, and having open house game nights at our home.

Thanks for getting me thinking....

Anonymous said...

< I hope I get so busy chatting that we are forced to eat sandwiches every night for supper, because I got nothing accomplished. That would be living life. >

This is terrible, and completely unbiblical. There is a time and place for fellowship, but not at the expense of keeping up with your homemaker duties, which include putting a healthy meal on the supper table. Somehow I don't think your husband would approve of your gabbing so much with the neighbors that you make him eat sandwiches every night for dinner.
Do you really think the Lord would approve of you getting nothing accomplished because you sat on your fanny so long that you lost sense of time? Heavens, woman. Reread what you wrote and see how lazy it really sounds!
I get your point, but all things in moderation.
Sheesh....

koinoniacommunity said...

Thanks for the lovely comments.

Heidi - You have some great ideas. Way to go finding creative ways to fit in fellowship. I love game nights. What a cool idea to have an open house game night! Can I borrow that idea? We, too, live in the country. I love it out here. But, boy, do I ever do some driving. :0)

anonymous - You missed the point. We often put fellowship aside as something we will fit in when we get everything else accomplished, like taking a day of rest. That is unbiblical.

Actually my husband would love to have me lighten up and put aside my daily full course meals in exchange for sandwiches and relaxing on the porch with neighbors. He thinks I do too much.

As for it being biblical, there is a neat little story in the Bible about two sisters, Mary and Martha. I believe we should all take more time to enjoy our Lord in the little things all around us. I, personally, need to put 'being still' into practice a little more frequently.

Don't be too concerned about me. I usually wake up around 4:30am and I assure you my homemaker duties get completed even if I make the time to sit around and chat with neighbors.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Nat--don't let "anonymous" bother you. Someone who criticizes without having the common decency to tell you who they are by name (even if made up) is just a snark. It makes him or her feel better to criticize you. I'm sure this anonymous is feeling pretty good about her fancy meals on the table and just HAD to tell someone.

Pride goeth before the fall, right? :)

Starr LaPradd said...

Natalie! Great Blog! I think you are right on the mark when you say " Attempt something so great it cannot succeed unless God is in it!" He can only receive the Glory when we allow Him to do the works! Oh, and how much better the works are when He has led them! I will be visiting you here often, I'm sure.
Love and Blessings,
Starr

koinoniacommunity said...

Lindsey,
So true! Also -

Ephesians 4:29 KJV
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Or, for those who like to read the simpler text

Ephesians 4:29 NIV
Do not let any unwholesome(Greek sapros)talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Those who know me in real life are really getting a chuckle out of anonymous' comments. :0) so did my hubby!

Rev Colin said...

Hi Natalie,
I would love to publish your piece on 'The Importance of Fellowship' in the January/February edition of 'The Voice' magazine.
please contact me. my e-address is on my website at www.voicepublications.com
Every blessing,
Rev Colin