To be truly human is to be able to have intimate relationships with others. The creation story says ‘worlds’ about this need. God said: “It is not good for man that he should be alone,” so he created another, a woman, a complement in order that the person not be alone. But in that creation account/myth, the immediate result of their rebelling against their creator, was that the man and woman hid from each other, i.e., the loss of intimacy. Take note: the loss of their intimacy with their creator resulted in a loss of intimacy with one another. The deterioration of the human community is the continual saga of human history.

It should be obvious to us that the result of that ‘original sin’ was not just guilt and the penalty, but the loss of a vital component of true human community, or our true humanity. We still have that basic need for intimacy, of unhindered fellowship with another, or others, if we are to be truly human. Tragically, we continue to hide from one another (and, maybe, go to a psychological counsellor to tell us why we are so unhappy!).

But, enter the Son of God: Jesus our savior, our reconciler, the one who has come to recreate us, to call us out of hiding, and to recreate us into truly human persons, to begin that process of fashioning us again into those truly human persons, and to also recreate the human community, and to reconcile us to our Creator. It is his design to recreate us into the image of the Son of God (Romans 8:29). Enter, then, one of critical components of that community of God’s New Creation: koinonia: a Greek word that describes intimate relationships.

And the beginning place of that koinonia is a two-fold confession, the first of which is that we are real (not theoretical) sinners, that we deliberately come out of hiding and acknowledge that we are flawed and imperfect and guilty beyond our ability to conceive. And the other confession is that we embrace Jesus, that we take our place in his reconciling love, and choose to belong to him and to obey is teachings. When we do, so—when we embrace his word/teachings—we are made “free indeed” (John 8:36). One witty Biblical teacher observed that our Christian confession of ‘total depravity’ is the great democratizing principal of the Christian faith! Our confession of sin, which is at the threshold of our Christian faith, is our deliverance from our need to stay in hiding. It makes koinonia possible, even somewhat inevitable. “I know this about you and you know it about me.”

The New Testament writings contain those inescapable teachings, such as that we are to confess our sins to one another; that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; that if we do not forgive one another, neither will our heavenly father forgive us; that we are being delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God—true humanity, New Creation humanity, community in which true intimacy is the rule and not the exception.

Our deliverance into such glorious liberty is always in progress. That first-generation Christian community met together in public to hear the teaching of the apostle, … but then they were together, from house to house: “in the apostle’s teaching, koinonia, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers, and no one claimed that anything he/she owned was theirs alone” (Acts 2:42). That describes a fairly small community of true intimacy, not a religious hiding place, or a ‘safe’ Bible study, but a community of God’s New Creation in Christ.

As we move inexorably into this post-Christian culture, such true communities of love and intimacy—that grow out of Christ’s love in us and through us—will become a major factor in reaching those, who otherwise are totally immune to any religion: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, in that you love one another as I have loved you.” Such communities of true intimacy in Christ are a major component of our message of salvation. Amen. [I love to hear your  responses, and to get your feedback. Thanks.]

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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