Joy in the Church…What’s missing? (part four)

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“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, and to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” The early church got their joy from Jesus, but they expressed their joy and they experienced their joy as they did those four things.

Let’s consider fellowship. They devoted themselves to the fellowship.

The word there is koinonia, which is the kind of intimate fellowship you find in a marriage. It is fellowship with a purpose– not simply enjoying each other’s company over coffee, but a shared commitment to an important task, the task of loving each sacrificially.

We see that demonstrated in the communism of the early church. “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, their real estate and cars and microwaves, they gave to anyone as they had need.” I called that communism to get your attention. But it wasn’t really communism, because that is an economic and political theory that has historically been godless. This wasn’t communism; it was koinonia, community, a love so deep that people were willing to sacrifice their own stuff to make sure that no one in church had an unmet need.

They were devoted to this kind of self sacrificing fellowship, and it brought great joy to those who gave and to those who received. In a world full of callousness and compassion fatigue, where everyone is watching out for himself, it is a rare and joyful thing when people actually watch out for each other.

If there isn’t joy in the church today, perhaps it’s because we have lost this kind of warm-hearted, open handed fellowship. Maybe we’re too busy guarding what we have or getting what we want. That way of life is just as godless as historic communism.

So, is there a middle ground for those of us today? How do we live in koinonia without total communism?

How do we live in capitalism without total consumerism?


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