What is it? What does it mean? Or, if you’re like me, how do you even pronounce it? Beyond all of that, why should I care?
Over the past few weeks, I have been completing Blackaby’s study, Experiencing God – Knowing and Doing the Will of God. It’s been a great study that has confirmed some things for me as well as challenged me to take my “relationship” with Christ to a deeper level. As a side, I also just completed Francis Chan’s Crazy Love book this past weekend which also challenges in the area of today’s topic. It is in Experiencing God that I noticed this word, Koinonia.
So let’s dig in a bit. The greek word koinonia, most frequently translated means “fellowship”. In today’s church, we commonly hear the term “fellowship” as it pertains to sharing time with and loving one another in the church body. While this is a part of “koinonia”, it’s actually a result of true koinonia. As Blackaby states:
“Koinonia, or intimate fellowship, in the church is based on a personal Koinonia with God in Christ by individual believers. Koinonia with God only comes from a real, personal encounter with the living Christ and surrender to Him as absolute Lord of your life. This is the intimate love relationship…God pursues…with you.”
While I won’t embed it in this post, an area of the text that Blackaby references is 1 John 1:1-7. Multiple times throughout this text, you’ll see “fellowship” with the Father through Christ referenced. There are various other uses of this greek term throughout the scriptures.
For some, you likely related to the term Koinonia instantly once explained. Others of you are likely thinking, what does “a real, personal encounter with the living Christ” look like? Yet for others, having a “intimate, personal relationship with God” may be new to you.
To aid in developing a better understanding of where you’re personally at with Koinonia, I’d like to offer 10 steps George Barna has outlined from studies showing how most Christians progress in their spiritual maturity.
1) Ignorance of sin
2) Aware of sin but indifferent
3) Concerned about potential effects
4) Realized acceptance of Jesus
5) Increased religious activity
6) Holy discontent – several years into our journey we say “is this it?”
8) Surrender and submission
9) Profound love connection with God
10) Extreme love of people
While Barna states that it’s not always a sequential process, most believers must pass through at some point all aspects of this process to experience true “Koinonia”. See a prior post for more on Barna by clicking here.
I personally can relate to the gap between step #4 “acceptance of Jesus” and step #8 “surrender and submission”. As I relate to anyone who desires to hear my faith story, I “accepted” Christ in middle school; however, I didn’t “surrender and submit” to His leading of my life until my early 40’s. And, this “surrender and submission” isn’t a one time occurrence as I’m finding I must wake up every morning in prayers of surrender and submission to His leading.
Today, my intent is only to plant a seed. I won’t quote statistics for now and I certainly don’t want to come across as “having arrived”; however, what I’m discovering is that it’s a very small percentage of Christians who are truly seeking and experiencing authentic Koinonia. This is especially true I think in America where the norm is caught up in pursuing the American Dream versus Koinonia.
One final thought to ponder is “when was the last time you had a real, personal encounter with God?” Praise God that for many of you it was at the time of “accepting” Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. However, if that’s the only time you recall or you haven’t experienced an “encounter” with God recently, I encourage you to “seek Him” and ask that He “reveal” Himself today. When you have this type of “real, personal encounter” you’ll be filled with a “joy” and “peace that surpasses understand”. And, you’ll never question whether you’ve experienced such a moment with our loving Heavenly Father.