Some call it fellowship, others simply a relationship and I’ve chosen the name partnering in life. Neither one, however, can fully reflect the meaning of the Greek κοινωνία (koinonia) better than the passage from Acts 2:42-47.
Today we tend to take relationships for granted. The Internet offers them at practically no cost, and so does the local school, sports club… oh, yes – even the church. So far – nothing wrong. Sadly enough, the fragrance of the koinonia seems to have faded away. Instead of being like a fresh Spring bloom, it’s more like a frozen vegetable which has then been microwaved – you wouldn’t know it smells like something if it weren’t for the big fat colored label on the package that tricks your mind into believing it does. We’re either really dumb fools or really lazy and indifferent to our own lives.
We like having partners in life as long as they don’t require much of us. As long as they don’t disturb out comfortable and well planned and organized living. It seems to me that the fancier mobile phones one can buy, the less we care about sincerely maintaining our relationships. Perhaps this would be quite a shock to Johann Philipp Reis (whom I credit as the inventor of the telephone). Nevertheless, my point is – the things that ought to draw us closer to each other seem to actually scatter us apart.
I believe the answer is to be found in Matthew 6:21 where Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV). So long as we place other things at the top of our life, instead of God, we won’t be able to enjoy that hard-core, pure bread koinonia that the first believers had in Jerusalem shortly after Pentecost.
The Bible says in Acts 2:42, that they were προσκαρτεροῦντες (proskarterountes) or earnest towards, constantly diligent, continually giving themselves upon the teachings of the Gospel, remembering Jesus through communion, sharing the precious time of meals with each other and last but not least – praying. It’s that kind of devotion towards God that enabled them to be devoted to each other as well. It’s that kind of devotion that allowed them to flourish in what appears to have been a rather hostile environment. It’s that kind of devotion that empowered them to sacrifice without constraints and barriers, so that the needs of the people around them may be met.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV)
Seriously, when was the last time you saw a brother sell his iPod in order to feed another? When was the last time you heard of a sister selling her collection of unused t-shirts, so that a child somewhere else may have the chance to go to his first day of school wearing shoes as opposed to wearing the dust from the road on his bare swollen feet? That’s just about whre the believers in Jerusalem started – some went as far as selling their land, cattle, estate property – knowing that they could meet a need, and knowing that God will faithfully deliver. Moreover, they didn’t just do it – they were diligent in constantly doing their best in selling stuff away as they saw needs emerging from around them. Not foolishly, but as the Holy Spirit led them.
While most scholars agree that these events could be described as an ongoing revival, they also claim it’s rather improbable that this can occur in our culture and society today. I beg to differ. If people could be changed by God so much that they could be true partners in life, I see no real reason why we could not undergo the same transformation. But then again, we Christians often fall back on the “unreal” and “insignificant” as reasons for why we don’t do the things we should do.