by Matthew Belwood

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42

Recently, as everyone surely knows by now, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, has passed away. His death has spawned a great deal of reflection and thoughts regarding his life. Of course, I'm a great admirer of his products. His tools have allowed myself and many others to do ministry with excellence. And like many people, I've spent a good deal of time absorbing what others are saying about his life's work, good and bad. But there is an aspect of his work that I have been dwelling on recently.

Not only did Steve Jobs make technology cool, he made it simple. While everything around us has been crumbling, economically and politically, Jobs churned out one beautifully polished product after another, easy to use, usually with only one button, starting with the iPod in 2001. Incidentally, this was just after the World Trade Center attacks.

To the world, for the last decade plus, Jobs' brilliance was that he offered a perfectly articulated form of community that fit into our laptop bags. The "cult of Mac" became a worldwide phenomenon that developed with a common love for all things Apple. People came together because they loved the power of being able to push a single button and get the cheap thrill (expensive thrill?) of controlling "incredibly complex engineering  made simple for the masses." This was a welcome respite in a world that was spiraling quickly out of control.  

That's when it hit me.  If we look really closely, what we see is not Koinonia (authentic, deep fellowship) rather it is iKoinonia.

I coined the term iKoinonia because it's not a real form of Koinonia. It's a way to deal with the unwelcome realities of the world by distracting ourselves with endless apps, to relate with people only through the internet, or any other cheap imitation of the real thing. 

And it's not limited to Apple products, there are many cheap imitations to real Koinonia; iKoinonia can never really satisfy us. 

Apple products themselves are morally neutral. Steve Jobs just wanted to make good tools accessible to people. In reality, anything can become an excuse to become a cheap imitation of real Koinonia. But the "cult of Mac" and "iKoinonia" is one example of a world wide hunger within us for intimacy with God and others manifesting itself in a way it was not intended to. 

Both Deaf teenagers and those of us in ministry with them are in great need of communion by intimate participation in the Body of Christ.   

I'm one of those people. For too long, I've looked toward the Lone Ranger mentality as an effective way to do ministry. But deep down, I want the full richness of Koinonia in my life to recharge me and receive the Word of God through others. I hope my recent purchase of the iPad 2 was not an attempt to fill that void.    

Deaf teenagers across the United States are looking for connections through unhealthy relationships, Facebook and other social pressures to fill the void created by intense isolation. 

Imagine the transformation that takes place if we live in healthy relationships with other like-minded Believers and teach our Deaf teenagers this model.     

2012, I think, will be the year of Koinonia, at least for the Belwood family.  Real, authentic relationships, centering around the apostles teaching, fellowship, prayer, and the breaking of bread as described in Acts 2:42.

May you be blessed with an authentic, rich Koinonia yourself as you serve Deaf teens in ministry, and live Koinonia with them as they experience this transformational relationship with God and His people. AMEN

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