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.