Koinonosby Dan Stolebarger, Director of Koinonia Institute
Have you ever noticed that there are times when, no matter how loud we speak (or even if we scream), that no one seems to hear? How can that be? Could it possibly be that the old adage “your actions speak louder than your words” really is spot on?
For the most part, the church today has a revolutionary vocabulary, but oftentimes no one seems to be listening. Spurgeon once quipped, “The world is sick and tired of the Church making such extraordinary claims while living such ordinary lives!”
Could it be that our actions are speaking so loudly that it is impossible for the world to hear the true Gospel? The time may be at hand when we, as followers of The Way, need to quit preaching and start living-you know-walk the talk!
Jesus had something to say about this when He spoke concerning what constituted the true behavior of His “real” followers.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
If we, as the Church, want our message heard today, the time has come for us to do more than just “speak or preach” the message. It has to be proclaimed by rolling up our sleeves and getting busy living our message!
As we begin to focus on His message, we need to remember what Jesus had to say about what the real guts of the Gospel is all about.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
The importance of love cannot be overstated when it comes to describing the desired fruit of our lives here on earth. We need to remember that love is a verb! The Shema, which according to Jesus was the Greatest Commandment, is where we are exhorted to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength! But what does that really mean, and how do we go about doing that?
Take a look at the following from Leah Rafaeli, a Jewish friend, who publishes The Lekarev Report:
Every morning we declare in the Shema (Hear, O Israel) that we acknowledge our responsibility to love Hashem with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our possessions. In giving this declaration to Moshe on Mt. Sinai, Hashem taught Israel something about what true love is.
True love is not emotion-true love may include emotion. True love is not thrills-though it may well include many thrilling moments.
True love is best defined by action. In Jer. 31:3, it is written, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you to Myself with loving kindness. Hashem’s everlasting love towards His people is expressed in His actions.
Our love for Hashem is not measured accurately by how many times we say that we love Him, but by how many times we choose to obey Him because of our love for Him. That is the sublime teaching inscribed in the Shema.
Obedience from a heart of love toward Hashem is the supreme act of the worship of Him which the First Commandment calls for. May the coming year find all of us increasingly obedient to His Torah, not out of rote or thoughtless repetition, but out of genuine love for the Holy One of Israel.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
1 John 4:20 - 21
The Bottom Line: Action Is Required!
The need for this kind of action has motivated me lately, especially when I have the opportunity to share about Koinonia Institute (KI). For those of you who are unaware of KI, let me give you a brief overview of what we are about. The Institute consists of three Tracks.
The first leg is our Berean track. This is where we address the need to be what the Muslims accuse us of being (and I only wish this were true): The People of the BOOK! KI is founded on the chapter and verse study of the Word of God. This is the backbone of KI and makes up the first leg.
Our second leg is really the major thing that separates us from other ministries; it is what we call our Issachar track. Like the sons of Issachar (see 1 Chronicles 12:28), it is our desire to “understand the times and to know what we should be doing!” This track addresses our commitment to Prophecy.
Now when we come to our third track, I like to rock the boat a bit. I usually pause at this juncture and allow a dramatic pause before I make the following statement: “We at KI are not satisfied with stopping here-our interest is not to produce folks who simply know a lot about the Bible or those who are just running down the latest prophetic rabbit trail! Our third track is called the Koinonos track and we have one simple question for you … ‘What are you doing for Christ’s sake?’”
This track claims the Third Commandment for its Scriptural foundation and contends that taking the Name of the Lord in vain has nothing to do with vocabulary; it has everything to do with Ambassadorship! If you are going to take the name of the King, you had better back it up with your actions, not just your words. This is the reason we ask, “What are you doing for Christ’s sake?”
When you join the Institute, you will shortly become educated with our internal merit system. You will hear us speak often about our Bronze, Silver and Gold Medallion holders. It is important for you to know that these are just “encouragements along the way” and thus indicators of structured accomplishments, sort of like the Boy Scout merit badges.
We encourage our members to wear their medallions at all our sponsored KI events, not for prideful purposes, but for identity purposes.
Now, the key for the rewarding of the Medallions is that our students have what we call a “balanced diet.” What we mean by this is that all of our medallions require work in all three tracks. Let’s look at our Silver Medallion requirements as an example:
BEREAN Requirements: • One book from the Torah • One book from the Major Prophets • One book from the Gospels • The Book of Romans • The Book of Revelation • One Elective
ISSACHAR Requirements: • PROPHECY 601 - An overview of all ten of the Strategic Trends • PROPHECY 602 - A presentation on one of the Trends • PROPHECY 603 - A second presentation on a different Trend
KOINONOS Requirements • Practicums that equal 3000 K-Credits (KI currency given out to proposed Practicums.)
Remember, the Koinonos track is “where the rubber meets the road.” It is here you describe what YOU believe God is calling you to DO! When you log in to the appropriate link, the following is what you will find:
As you can see, we do not dictate our student’s choices-we try not to put the Holy Spirit in a straitjacket. In this area we feel very strongly that our students need to seek HIM for their Practicum assignments.
Remember, this is what makes the decibel level of our message audible to the world around us. Ultimately, in the end, I believe the way to best measure the “success” of KI will be to look at the summaries of our students’ Practicums rather than their final test scores.
We truly believe that KI is a God-inspired vehicle that will aide everyday believers in “raising the bar” in their spiritual lives. It is a new wineskin for this generation. Please check us out at www.studycenter.com.