Raising twin daughters, my husband and I purposed to instill certain values, standards, morals, and principals in them. One of the main points that we focused on was “preferring another over ourselves.” Simply put, we taught them, “If each member of the family continually puts the other three members ahead of themselves, caring more about the other’s needs and desires than their own, and doing their best to meet the other’s needs, then each member will always have their needs met.” Logic 101.
This worked very well for us, however, we did have our times of disagreement, misunderstandings, and yes, even arguments. But overall we flowed together harmoniously most of the time. The positive equation looked something like this: we said a whole lot more “I love yous” than we had to say “I’m sorrys.” We flowed together in koinoina.
Our family was built on Christian values and koinonia was one of them. Koinonia is a Greek word meaning “the Christian fellowship or body of believers, an intimate spiritual communion, a participation and sharing in a common religious commitment and spiritual community, the koinonia of the disciples with each other and with their Lord”.
In Christian circles, we should expect to see koinonia, not only in our families but in our churches as well. The sad truth is, we usually don’t. It is rare to see a body of believers move together as one and share an intimate spiritual communion, in Christian homes and in our churches. It is uncommon to see that level of participation from the members that koinonia inhabits.
Koininea is important enough so that Paul wrote a whole chapter about it in 1 Corinthians 12, although he didn’t call it that. Think about your natural body with its many members, ie: ears, nose, hands, feet, etc. When you move your feet to walk, the rest of your body members walk with you. Your body moves as one person. Your ears, nose, hands, and all other members go with you. They all participate. What a hindrance it would be if your hands or any other member refused to go!
Yet this happens all the time in families and church bodies. Some members just don’t participate. Many are present, but not engaged. They do not get involved in, or participate in true koinonia. This is a hindrance to the body as a whole in going forward.
At the time of Moses, the Lord said that he would not allow anyone from the original group of Israelites to enter into the Promised Land, save Joshua and Caleb. Because they were of a different spirit. So what happened? The Lord waited patiently as the original group died off in the wilderness. It sounds harsh, I know. But when that process was complete he brought the next generation into the Promised Land, led by Joshua and Caleb.
Are you a member of a church body that has both those who want to move together as one in koinonea, and also those who are non-participatory? Joshua and Caleb were. Moses, Joshua, and Caleb all tried to warn the Israelites, but they would not listen. They murmured against them. They obstinately and stubbornly said, “we will go up to the hilltop and dwell there then.” Moses told them not to go because the Amalekites and Canaanites were there, and he said “they will kill you”. But the Israelites would not listen.
The Israelites were killed, just as Moses warned. Now, the next generation, led by Joshua and Caleb were free to move forward and inherit the promised land. The Israelites wanted to go, and Moses, Joshua, and Caleb let them go, knowing full well what was going to happen. But they, like our Father in heaven, did not force their members against their will. They warned them and then they gave them the freedom to make their own choice.
Brethren, if you are like Joshua and Caleb, then do as they did. Do as Paul did and “press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Like John the Baptist, “ make straight the way of the Lord.” Simply put, don’t let anything or anyone get in your way of moving forward in Christ.
Bearing this in mind, let us hear what Paul said in Romans 15. “We who are strong in faith should help those who are weak. We should help them with their weaknesses, and not please only ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to help him be stronger in faith. Even Christ did not live to please himself. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other the way Christ Jesus wants. Then you will all be joined together, and you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other. This will bring glory to God.”
I believe the key or the “answer” to all of this is: “Be loving and kind, willing to help the weaker ones grow. (Notice that the above scripture says, “let each of us please his neighbor for his good.”) This means to help them grow if they want to grow. But if they don’t, do not try to force them. Give them to God. Give it all to God. He knows exactly how to handle the whole situation.