by Jerry Bridges
Koinonia, a Greek word, was first used to describe the early believers in Acts 2:42. in some translations, the word can mean community or fellowship. Jerry Bridges, a Navigators’ stalwart, spends the first three chapters of True Community to weave a tapestry to bring to light the full meaning of koinonia. It is more than a gathering of believers. First and foremost it is about sharing a common life rooted in Christ; partnering with Him, participating and sharing this common life. This true community is essential for enriching our relationship with each other, and with God.
Secondly, located at the heart of this true community is the vertical relationship with God. Each believer is to ‘abide’ in Christ. We are an integral part of the body of Christ, not detachable add ons. In fact Bridges consistently uses the imagery of the body, as Paul did, to reflect the intimate relationship between different members of the community, and they with Christ as the head.
Thirdly, we are asked to consider how the community expresses itself. Bridges turns to Romans 12:10 for the answer; we are to honour one another above ourselves. It is about thinking corporately rather than individually. What binds it all together is agape love. For within the larger community, there are small groups (cell or care groups) where deeper spiritual loving friendships can flourish through mutual responsibility and commitment, sharing of biblical truths, accountability, openness with one another, and praying together.
In the second part of this 143-paged book, Bridges explores what the hallmarks of such a true community would be like. It should be Christ-like. Bridges covers a few areas in which the community can develop and grow in serving. For instance the community can individually and corporately partner in the spread of the Gospel through giving, praying meaningfully and regularly (‘holding the ropes’) for missionaries and evangelists. Members can also regularly share possessions with those in need, and bless the community with their spiritual gifts. In all of these areas, Bridges points to Christ’s servant-hood. He calls it serving downwards, citing a CEO who asked the unexpected, “How can I serve my staff?”
However, the true community also knows how to have fun together. In the last chapter, Bridges talks about social fellowship in which godly but not necessarily religious activities take place.
When we accepted Christ into our lives, His grace has given us membership in a worldwide koinonia. This book is therefore a strong encouragement to each of us to seek a local true community especially its small groups so that we can remain “in Christ” (Romans12:5) together.
Written in a conversational style, one feels like Bridges is sharing what he is most passionate about over a cup of tea. And within this book, he has a well planned Discussion Guide with simple but searching questions for each chapter to continue the dialogue with you the reader and helping you to explore the meaning of koinonia and its facets.
Treasure Trove Team Member