Clarity: Vital Connection in Community
“Misery loves company.”
There is more to that line than meets the eye. We typically read it as, “when I’m miserable, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one suffering.”
But there is another way to look at it that is more in line with how our minds were intended to work: “when I am suffering, it’s nice to have others come alongside me to lift me up.”
That’s because of one undeniable truth: God made us to live in community with one another. Or, to put it another way, God never wanted us to be isolated or alone!
From the very beginning, this was his desire – “it is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) This is what, in Greek, is known as “koinonia” (Greek: κοινωνÎ¯α). Literally, “koinonia” means “communion” or “fellowship.” And, from Adam onward, we are given countless examples of how God would have us live our lives outside of isolation. Outside of ourselves.
In Ecclesiastes, the writer opines that, “two are better than one. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”
Proverbs 27:17 says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Jesus, Himself, lived in constant fellowship with his apostles! They ate together, worshipped together, learned together and traveled together. The very first thing Jesus did after receiving God’s anointing and blessing at his baptism was to go find fellowship! And it’s in this act that we see the clearest example of the importance of “koinonia.”
As we join in fellowship with others, as we become familiar with our companions, we learn how to relate. We learn how to live and how to love. Community is of the greatest importance if we are to fulfill the great commission – to go into all the nations and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If God had wanted us to be a bunch of loners, he never would have given us that direct order. He would have, instead, told us to “go into all the caves of the world, build a door, bar it and live alone as hermits.” He didn’t, so we can’t. We simply can’t. Far too much is riding on our desire and ability to connect.
Maybe the ultimate show of fellowship Jesus gave us, though, wasn’t in how he related to his disciples or the immense crowds that gathered upon his arrival and followed him like a pack of lost puppies. Maybe, just maybe, it came in his final few hours as he hung, dying by crucifixion, knowing the end was rapidly approaching and he didn’t ignore his chance to connect and relate. Almost alone, even with throngs of people watching – and cheering – his death from below, Jesus took the time to reach out to the two criminals who were being put to death with him. And, in that final act of love, saved a soul for eternity through the last gasp of relation and fellowship he had.
We have been explicitly called to be in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. We can survive, but we could never thrive, without engaging in koinonia.