On fellowship

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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Several years ago, I read the book, “Make Your Bed” by Admiral William H. McRaven. It started as a commencement speech at the University of Texas, exploded on YouTube, and finally found it way into the book. There are ten lessons he learned as a “tadpole,” or Navy seal trainee. The first lesson is, “If you want to change yourself, and maybe the world, make your bed.” The second lesson is “make a friend;” or, “If you want to change yourself, and maybe the world, find someone to help you paddle.”

I was a bit surprised to discover what held those seven man seal teams together through their thirty months of training… a ten foot rubber raft. They carried it to their barracks; they slept with it. They carried it to the mess hall; they ate with it. They ran up and down the beach with it; they paddled it into the surf and across miles and miles of ocean.

If you want to drop out of the training, you “ring the bell” set up on the beach for that purpose. It sits there tempting you, when you are cold and sick and tired, to simply ring it and go inside where it’s warm and safe and much, much more comfortable.  Maybe you could guess the tenth lesson is, “Don’t ever, ever ring the bell.” But 99% of the men who enter the preliminary training don’t even make it to the thirty month training as tadpoles. And 25% of those who make it to the next level ring the bell… they quit. What keeps the others from “ringing the bell;” maybe it’s the rest of the team? They are famous for their cohesiveness, their integrity, their physical endurance, and their reputation as the most skilled warriors in the world. They start as seven tadpoles and complete their training as a “United States of America Seal Team.”

John writes to the church, that’s us, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8) “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” (2 John 6) “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)

“Koinonia” is the transliteration of a Greek word meaning “fellowship and unity.” It’s the secret of the Christian church as we build our community around fellowship and unity… this is not a “sappy,” “syrupy,” “you make me feel good” love; this is a “what do you need?” love. And you might be interested to know it was the final word spelled by Karthik Nemmani, a young American Indian boy from McKinney, Texas who won the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee… k-o-i-n-o-n-i-a! Koinonia!