Summary: Fellowship is so much more than potluck meals and getting together for game night. Fellowship is the selfless emersion into each others’ lives.
There are many who have become familiar with the Greek word ’koinonia.’ The most common thing people say is that it means "fellowship." I ask you to keep that thought in mind as we go through the lesson.
I want to start with a short story about something terrible that happens to some Romanian orphans and a real medical condition many of them suffer from.
In Romania, and in many Eastern European countries, there are so many orphans institutionalized that there isn’t enough food or medical supplies or staff members to take care of them. The babies, often past toddler age, are still kept in diapers and placed in cribs because there’s no other way to take care of them. They are lifted out to be fed and they infrequently have their diapers changed. There is no real physical contact with other humans, especially any of the cuddling and holding that babies need to develop normally. They end up in semi-catatonic states and often die from a lack of human contact. This condition is called “failure to thrive syndrome.”
We need to understand that “failure to thrive syndrome” can happen in our spiritual lives. It can be avoided and it can be cured. But, prevention doesn’t happen by itself.
The key to avoiding this spiritual disease is through fellowship. But, fellowship is much more than what you may think it is. We can see what I mean in today’s passage. It’s the prescription against “failure to thrive syndrome”. You’ll find it in Acts 2:41-47.
"So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. All those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Basically, you can take this passage as the definition of the Greek word ‘koinonia.’
In the church today, we often take for granted what the word "fellowship" means. We too often think of potluck dinners and ice cream socials.
We see here in verse 42 of Acts chapter 2, one form of the word fellowship that doesn’t mean what we may usually think. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship...”
Fellowship here is from a Greek word “koinonos” which is where we get “koinonia”. It means to be a sharer, a companion, one who is a partaker, a participant in communion.
Maybe we can answer the question of what is fellowship if we know what it might look like in our lives or what we might experience as a result. What should we experience when there’s true fellowship? Verse 43 tells us: “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” What do you picture in your mind when you hear that verse?
Don’t you wish we could have that kind of thing taking place today? There’s no reason why we shouldn’t still be experiencing this kind of fellowship. The truth is, we can still experience; signs and wonders and awe inspiring things in our church today, if we devote ourselves to true fellowship.
Let’s ask the question again. What should we experience when we have true fellowship? We see more in verses 44-45: “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.”
Maybe you noticed some familiar words in these passages to what I’ve already discussed. Do you see “together” “common” “sharing”? This is the same as the definition of the Greek word “koinonos”.
Does this mean we all must sell our possessions and come together and live in a commune? No. Then what does it mean? Here’s what I believe this means for us today. The selling of possessions was a means to an end. We see that end when we look at the last phrase of the verse.
We have true fellowship when we demonstrate genuine caring for each other and meet each others’ needs. Caring is just an emotion that says, “I care for you.” Fellowship means we must take action.