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The Recovery of "Koinonia"

The Recovery of "Koinonia"

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Published by Stan Moody
The mission of the church is not to create a successful American Dream but to get down and dirty with the exiled among us...
The mission of the church is not to create a successful American Dream but to get down and dirty with the exiled among us...

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Stan Moody on Jun 09, 2012
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06/12/2012

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1
Stan Moody
POB 240Manchester, ME 04351207/626-05941434 Ohio St., #44Bangor, ME 04401207/607-3055
The Recovery of 
 Koinonia
Commencement Address, Grace Evangelical College and Seminary, Bangor, ME, May 9. 2012I find myself in a very curious position tonight. I stand before you as one who hasexperienced the best that the American Dream has had to offer. Yet, I have found the AmericanDream to be sadly wanting and full of pitfalls. At every turn, I came up against a line in the sandand stepped back, knowing that to cross that line would be to surrender to Mammon.
In the words of a song made famous by Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?”
 God faithfully has answered the question that has dogged me since my teenage years and,
I suspect, dogs you tonight, “What do you want me to do, Lord?” The answer that I receivedover a lifetime of struggle has been, “I want you to completely trust me in whatever you do”. “Iwant a relationship with you”. “I want to be your friend”.
 We as believers in Jesus Christ as Lord are locked in a battle that has far less to do withour politics and far more to do with our selfishness. We have dragged our faith along for the rideto bail us out on our journey to becoming winners instead of servers. We have claimed a divineright to our own pursuit of happiness, leaving the Suffering Servant of Calvary in the marginsand our neighbor in need of love.This idolatry of self has left us seeking affirmation from an unbelieving world throughthe trappings of prosperity and success rather than through the resurrected life. Sadly, we havecarried that ethic into the church.In preparation for tonight, Dr. Phillips pointed me to a writing by theologian RudolphBultmann in his book,
 Jesus Christ and Mythology
. He says, and I paraphrase,
…modern man is in danger of forgetting two things. First, that his
actionsshould be guided not by his own desires for happiness, security, usefulness andprofit, but by obedience to the commandment of God to live lives of goodness,trust and love
Second, that it is an illusion to suppose that real security can begained by men organizing their own personal and community life
History goeson and pulls down all the towers of Babel again and again
There is no real,definitive security
”.
 
2
I would add that it is those very towers of Babel that we build as monuments to our ownhappiness and security that isolate us from the present, dynamic, victorious Kingdom of God thatbeckons us to die in order truly to live.Our great God has created us with a hunger and thirst for something the Greeks called
koinonia
 – 
 
to share real, intimate fellowship with Him and with each other. Instead, the greatAmerican experiment, in its glorification of the individual, has left us isolated, rejected, hopelessand superficial. We drag that isolation, rejection, hopelessness and superficiality into a churchthat is accepted but not embraced; tolerated but no longer relevant to our neighbor.
Koinonia
with myself or with those who fail to challenge my thinking, you see, is not
koinonia
at all. It is hell on earth.The Church of Jesus Christ will survive and flourish because its one foundation is JesusChrist, our Lord. However,
“W
hen the Son of Man appears, will He find faith where we asbelievers have staked our cl
aim?”
 The Age of Enlightenment, known also as the Age of Reason, gave us the IndustrialRevolution, the two Great Awakenings, a new nation conceived in liberty and the Americanchurch culture. The enemy of faith was reason. The invitational system of salvation became thebridge from the rational to the mystical
 – 
 
from Caesar‟s world to God‟s.
 Until around the mid-19
70‟s, t
he label of Christian was reserved for the irrational. Did welose something critical to our witness as a peculiar people set apart for the glory of God whenPresident Jimmy Carter and Chuck Colson
 popularized being “born again”.
Since around 1945, just as the last of the great evangelists, Billy Graham, began hisministry, our culture has been moving away from the god of reason and toward the god of relativism. We now live in a world in which truth is no longer absolute. A Church steeped in 19
th
 Century culture reels from the lack of a definable enemy. Prophetically, in the words of Pogo,
“We have met the enemy, and he is us!”
 In this relativistic world, tolerance has become the only truth form. The God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob, instead of leading us through the desert, has been invited along as anaccomplice to our 5-year plans. We find ourselves desperately devising clever strategies forgrabbing an increasing share of a declining church market
 – 
9.9% of the population in Maine,while the world around us is drowning in its collective pride and self-indulgence.I submit to you tonight that the church of Jesus Christ must get down and dirty with theleast among us so that the world might see the difference between sacrificial love and the sappysentimentality that goes along with building our towers of Babel.On that note, I have both bad news and good news. The bad news is that the governmentis broke. The good news is that the government is broke. The Church may once again step in andserve the ground it has surrendered to a ship of fools, and I use that term biblically to refer tothose friends of Pontius Pilate who cynically ask,
“What is truth?”
You graduates have made a life-changing, ethical decision that will prompt a radicalchange in your lives. It has been a decision to seek first the Kingdom of God. What may surpriseyou, however, is that you are now faced with two choices. The first is to apply for a position inthe existing church culture and assume that you can slap a little duct tape on the old ecclesiologyand fix the church from the top down.The other choice is to pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus, the Suffering Servant,fixing the church from the bottom up. Following Jesus is not about you and me as individuals. Itis about HIM, and about US. It is about the recovery of 
koinonia
.
 
3
People just beyond our reach by our own design are drowning in a sea of fear, isolation,mental illness, drug dependency, brokenness and despair, and we are counting heads on Sunday
mornings as proof of God‟s presence
and our conformity to His will.If your time at Grace Evangelical has been effective, your settled doctrines and theologywill have been rattled. Take that quest for truth with you as you prayerfully and restlessly goforth from here. But expect to be divested of a traditional career path. You are headed for the rideof your life.God, you see,
doesn‟t have a 5
-year plan. He has an eternal plan. In order to share with usthat eternal plan, He invites
us to give up OUR plans. “
 I 
 
have plans for you,” declares the Lord,“plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future”. Do we dare
count on that? Do we dare abandon our fallback position?To be awakened to the surprise of 
God‟s
plans for us, He wants us to step into the deal
stream. To step into the deal stream is a kind of death of self. We don‟t know where it is going.We don‟t know where WE are going. We can‟t define what we are doing. And
, as with theProphet Elisha and the Apostle Paul, we have nothing to which to go back.
That‟s pretty scary stuff, isn‟t it?
Let me try to qualify it for you.To those of you who may be thinking about becoming pastors, I would encourage youtoday to set aside all desires for a career. The first question you will hear from your neighbor
steeped in relativism is, “How many people do you have in your church?” The answer you give
will identify you as either a winner or a loser. In fact, God is calling losers to get down and dirtywith other losers who need the Lord we so cleverly avoid with our committees, our suburbanethos and our homogeneity.This little gem of the Kingdom, Grace Evangelical College and Seminary, has a purposestatement that I hope is locked into your brain by now:Grace Evangelical works to enable the student to meet the challenges of real world life, rather than to be defined by an insular existence, avoiding theimplications of human imperfection and difficulty.There is embedded in that statement the clear message that God is calling us to get out of our insular Christian ghettos and into the world of human imperfection and suffering, for it isthere we will find Jesus
and the “pearl of great price”, His Kingdom
.In the time we have left, I want to share with you what I have learned in my search forthe Kingdom of God. It begins with Micah 6:8:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And
what does the Lord require of you? To do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your
God.”
 Can we get beyond the nouns
 – 
justice, mercy and humility
 – 
into the walk? There is a
conjunction between every noun. “…to do justly AND to love mercy AND to walk humbly withyour God”. What is required of us is not just
occasional justice; not just occasional mercy; not just feigned humility, but all three in harmonious interrelationship.That is impossible in the flesh. The natural man, you see, wants to replace the
conjunction “and” with “or” – 
justice OR mercy OR walk humbly with your idol of the month.The modern Christian, on the other hand, wants to find refuge in occasional justice or occasionalmercy and congratulate himself for walking humbly with his God
 – 
 
“saved and proud of it”.
 The question that burns in the heart of the seeker of righteousness is, however
: “What
does the Lord require of 
me
?”
We look around us for a vehicle to practice
“Justice, mercy and

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