Take a moment and reflect on the power in naming. It’s interesting that God gave Adam the task of naming. Did you ever wonder why? It seems that God takes an interest in the meaning of names, to the point that He from time to time changes names (e.g., Abram, Sarai, Simon and Saul). Then there are times that He Himself gives the Name (e.g., You shall call His Name Emmanuel …). So, what’s in a name?
I know when my wife and I named our children, we took great strides to understand the root meaning of their names and then, when they were born, we spoke those names into existence. To this day, when we pray for our boys, who are men now, we still pray that the meaning of those names would be exhibited in the lives and the essence of our sons.
As I have been reflecting on what God is developing here at KI, I have been goaded back to what name God has bestowed and I have been reminded of the order. We are not the Institute of Koinonia; we are Koinonia Institute. And it is not a coincidence that about a year ago, God made a correction in our vocabulary: He made it clear that we were to speak of those who have joined KI as members, not students...hmmm, I wonder why?
Well, as you know, years ago God named the ministry that Chuck Missler founded; it was to be called Koinonia House. As subscribers, you no doubt have heard the quip that since Koinonia was so hard to pronounce (let alone spell), we soon simply referred to it as K-House. But before we fast-forward and run to our abbreviated word, let us reflect a moment on the name.
Strong’s gives the following definitions to both the name and the root of our ministry: κοινωνα [koinonia /koy•nohn•ee•ah/] κοινων'ς [koinonos /koy•no•nos/]: def. fellowship, communion, partner, partaker, companion, associate, comrade.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus gives these synonyms for “Institute”: noun, LAW; 1) decree, decretum, edict, ordinance, precept, prescript, regulation, rule, statute.
What I have come to realize is that three years ago, when KI was birthed, God was specific in its naming and He, being the One who knows the end from the beginning, knew what would be coming down the road.
Many folks today are having their faith tested by recent sociopolitical developments. The economy has caught all of our attentions and recent developments in the Middle East have caused many to ponder and ask … “what if?” What if this is it; are we really heading towards some sort of final climax? Is this the season of the “times”—are we really living in the times of the signs? If so, then what should our behavior be and what is the mission and God’s purpose for KI?
Back to the name … first things first. We are to be a fellowship, in communion with one another, caretakers and comrades. God has brought over a thousand active members into KI; we must cultivate and grow together, living up to the name God has given us. We are not first and foremost an institute, filled with students who are simply pursing academic stimulation, whether it is in the Berean or Issachar tracks. We are family, and the ties that bind us, the cords that will never be broken, are not our theological positions! We are called to love and care for the brethren.
One thing that was clear from the first classes offered at KI was that our members valued the Discussion Question portion of the class experience because it enabled them to meet fellow members and begin to build community, albeit a cyber one. Then, when we hosted our KI conferences up in Coeur d’ Alene, we found that our speaker lineup took second place to “Hall-way Fellowship” and late nights in hotel rooms with members meeting face to face those whom they had only known before by email addresses!
So, in the times that await us, what are we to do? By all means … study the Scriptures and share the living Word with one another, and be good Bereans! For me, there is no better sound than when friends get together and someone says: “Let me share with you what the Lord spoke to me about today from the Word.” And there is no doubt that we need to take up the challenge of being like the sons of Issachar, not in just knowing what is really going on, but also in knowing what to do about it.
It is my belief from the Scriptures that our actions need to have an outward focus—it is not all about self-preservation; it is about being a light shining in a dark place! Our “koinonia” needs to have these elements present; they are foundational pillars, but we must care and tend for those with whom we have linked arms.
Have you noticed the pain, fear, anguish and anxiety among your fellow members? Many folks in KI have had severe accidents, illnesses, deaths, loss of jobs and prodigals who have yet to return, and they need to have a place to turn. We need to be supportive and cautious of having divisive spirits. In our discussions make sure you are first a member of KOINONIA and secondly a student in the INSTITUTE.
By the way, if we were only an Institute, our focus would only concern theological positions and, as history has so well pointed out, all we would have to look forward to would be splits and offshoots… when will the Reformed Institute of Koinonia open its cyber doors?
Please consider the following as an action step. In a word, PRAY! Pray for your classmates by name and pray for specifics. Take the time to visit the Prayer Room. Be open to share the Word with fellow members. Remember, in this day and age we don’t need opinions; we need to know what the Bible says! And finally, make sure that love is a verb in your life—take action, be a doer and allow God to minister through you. Remember, bearing fruit requires that we are connected to the vine! When we are connected, He can do the work through us!
I will leave you with the words of Paul that I pray would be evidenced in our KOINONIA (I know you know the passage, but please read it over slowly, marinate in it and let it sink in).
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.