In the beginning there was God. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Three in one. Three in perfect community. “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’.” Made for love. Made in the image of perfect community. And God walked with man and woman in the garden and they experienced this perfection. Complete love. Complete transparency. But man and woman traded this community for the hope of something greater. And community was broken. And what man and woman learned was to hide from God’s presence. To hide themselves and their sin among the trees and to pretend that everything was fine.
But God had a plan to restore this community. So God the Son put on flesh and dwelt among us. And He showed us the heart of the Father and the possibility of perfect unity. And He died to reconcile us back to God. Sin defeated. Community restored.
Old habits die hard, so they say. And we still prefer to hide. We stuff our sin behind some trees and cover ourselves with leaves and come out pretending everything is fine. We are terrified to be transparent with other people about what’s hidden there. We even think we can hide it from God, as if He doesn’t already know the depths of our hearts. If we have accepted this gift of reconciliation to God, and share in a relationship with Him, why do we still have such trouble living in true, honest community with each other?
I’ve always said isolation is the devil’s playground. Our adversary is quick to convince us we are right to keep things hidden. “If they really knew what you’ve done, they wouldn’t want anything to do with you,” or “None of these people have to deal with this issue you’re dealing with,” or “real Christians shouldn’t have these problems”. The deceiver will do anything to keep us here. Locked up in our own heads. Convinced that no one will understand. Convinced that we have to look like we have it all together. Walking in the dark.
But this is not the heart of God, dear friends. He created us to live in community with Him AND He gave us the Church, His Body, to live with in community as well. Koinonia is the Greek word first used in Acts 2 to describe the community of believers who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”
Wikipedia describes Koinonia: “translated into English, the meaning of koinonia holds the idea of joint participation in something with someone, such as in a community, or team or an alliance or joint venture. Those who have studied the word find there is always an implication of action included in its meaning.”
I believe we are called to joint participation in this life. We join with the triune God and with our fellow brothers and sisters as we all take action to walk this life together as a team, to help each other, to carry each other’s burdens and to rejoice in each other’s triumphs. I wish I could tell you some of the thousands of ways my life has been enriched, my burdens have been lifted, my needs have been met, my heart has been held by the communities of believers I’ve been apart of in my life. Yes, people are imperfect, and sometimes they will let you down. But it’s worth the risk to be free and live a life of transparent vulnerability!
Now, I’m not saying you need to stand up in the pulpit and display all your junk for the whole Body to see. But I am saying it’s time to come out from behind those trees, bring your sins and struggles with you, and work through them with at least one other believer who is safe and is sharing equally in your koinonia relationship. (Leslie wrote an amazing set of guidelines for being a great friend here. Definitely check that out if you haven’t.)
Those of you who are hiding in isolation, don’t believe the lies of the deceiver. It’s never better in the dark. No one has it all together, despite appearances, and it’s ok to admit you’re struggling. If you don’t think there is anyone in your life who can fill this role, ask God to bring someone. I guarantee He will. He longs for us to be in fellowship with Him and also with each other. Just like He is in relationship with Himself and with us! He created us for this, in His image, for our good. So let us walk in the light!
“But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light,
we also experience a shared life with one another,
as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin
(1 John 1:6-7 The Message).”
Live Free. Live Loved.