Fellowship (Koinonia) Life is loving and serving one another
Jesus said I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
How would you like to have a church fellowship that is well pleasing to God?
Words sometimes change their meaning over time So with the word fellowship has had its meaning changed when we use it to mean a cup of tea and a biscuit, or similar, after the meeting. In the new testament the Greek word for fellowship is koinonia (n=20 times). This word derives from the Greek word Koinonos whose primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion, community.” As you know the language of the NT is koine (common) Greek. Koinonia means having all things in common. In practice a group of Christians because of their common faith are willing to go beyond this and are willing to share in every area of the lives. This involves the sharing of one’s very nature and life force producing an intimate relationship of sharing and caring. It is a partnership, a sense of belonging to Gods family in a way beyond the bounds of our natural families. In the ancient world koinonia could be used of marriage where two persons loved one another, had so much in common, that their lives were joined into a mutual sharing of everything in their lives. The intimate sharing of all one’s life, joys and sorrows, pain and heartache like in a family situation. Our true fellowship begins when we come to faith in Christ and ought to develop with our brothers and sisters in the local church. God is calling us back to true fellowship, God is calling Hawick Elim back to true koinonia fellowship.
Let’s explore what true koinonia fellowship really looks like.
Koinonia is more than a club (or political party)
How many of us are in clubs, golf, bowling, darts, fishing, music, dancing etc.?
Usually we enjoy meeting our friends in clubs we enjoy chatting and sharing a hot drink.
Although we can enjoy this and that is OK, we can’t make the standard of behaviour in a secular club member, the same when we gather in Christian fellowship.
Many Christians think that fellowship is simply a matter of having tea or coffee with your fellow believers after a meeting but, it must go much deeper than this.
The first occurrence of koinonia is in.
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer. The four elements of the new and thriving Pentecostal church were.
Apostles teaching = bible study
Fellowship = sharing lives together
Breaking of bread = sharing meals together
Prayer = necessary to work with the Lord
Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together sharing in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia. God himself lives in a dynamic sharing of life and fellowship as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Part of Elim’s vision for 2020 is ‘One’, One Lord and one people and fellowship is how we show that we are one people.
The Methodist preacher W E Sangster put it like this; the fulness of the Christian life cannot be known except in fellowship - fellowship with God and fellowship with one another. Moreover, the purposes of God in this world require a social organism by which to express themselves.
Fellowship with God
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship (koinonia) with us: and truly our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
The Lord wants each one of us to develop an intimate sharing of life with Him and as a result of this we should begin to develop true and sincere fellowship and friendship with each other.
This could be summarized in terms of commitment to God and commitment to each other.
Jesus commands us to love one another in John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Well how does Jesus love us?
Testimony: about two years ago, we had a new couple in our church, someone stole their laptop during the service, and they were upset by this. In the spirit of koinonia some of our people clubbed together and bought them a new laptop. This is the spirit of true fellowship; the couple were very touched. When a misfortune happens, sometimes we can add something that links to the unhappy memory, e.g. the story of Auntie Jennie and my bike accident.
Galatians 5 22-23 The fruit of the spirit is love …
Fruit in nature is reproductive because it bears seed. A loving, caring and sharing fellowship will draw and win people to Christ because it is sowing the reproductive seeds of love. Apologies to the SAS but it is not ‘who dares wins’ but rather who cares wins (souls).
So, what does this true fellowship Koinonia look like in practice?
This growing in fellowship with each other is aided by spending time together and by having meals together. We need to stop holding others at arm’s length. This is a natural defence mechanism that we need to overcome.
You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs and you cannot make a true Christian Fellowship without getting involved with each other and with the Lord in the first instance.
We are of God’s family and household and like all human parents he wants his children to love one another.
We need to walk in the light.
Philippians 2:1-2 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Koinonia is agreeing with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ. What more can Christians have in common, One Lord, One faith, One baptism…
1 Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
There should be such a complete identification with our brothers and sisters so much so, that whatever touches or affects them also directly affects us. We are members of the same body, the body of Christ.
How good are you at Christian fellowship, do you find it difficult, I confess I do, but I see need to obey the Lord in this? What will you do when a member from your church turns up at your doorstep needing help?
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Today we are going to look at other ways in which we as brothers and sisters can interact with each other.
Just before moving on however, it is necessary to say something about smaller groups within a church fellowship.
Importance of smaller groups
As a church grows it often becomes difficult to get to know everyone and this can make it more difficult to have true fellowship with each other.
This problem can be overcome by forming smaller groups within the church.
These small groups may take the form of house groups (as in EE) but also may include ministry teams such as praise bands, children’s workers etc. The key thing in terms of developing koinonia fellowship is to get to know the people in your group, seeing them as close brothers and sisters.
In these groups we should really be taking care for each other, developing friendships, encouraging each other, praying for each other etc. etc. As industrious as our church leaders are, and they are, we can all play a part in caring for each other, with the more difficult situations and problems being passed to one of the elders.
‘One another’ scriptures
A powerful example of what koinonia should look like can be found in a study of the phrase “one another” in the Bible. Scripture commands us to be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10), honour one another (Romans 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8), accept one another (Romans 15:7), serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13), spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), offer hospitality (1 Peter 4:9), and love one another (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11-12). That is what true biblical koinonia should look like.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
All these instructions in scripture can be summarised by saying the Lord commands us to live together in love as part of his family in a sincere, a committed and involved way. Each one of us needs a sense of belonging and being a functioning part, together with our brothers and sisters, in the body of Christ. If we do this our church fellowship will be pleasing to the Lord.
God is calling this Fellowship today become a true fellowship, a true koinonia, that is an intimate sharing of lives.
1 Corinthians 10 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (koinonia) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion (koinonia) of the body of Christ?
17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
(The Greek word is κοινωνία.) One of the places we find this word is in 1 Corinthians 10:16 where the bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper are described as a “communion” in the body and blood of Christ. This word gets translated differently according to which Bible you pick up. Some say communion, others participation, and others sharing. I find “participation” to be the most helpful description of what communion is.
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Footnotes  1 John 1 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 2:9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.  37 occurrences in KJV NT.  White hot.