It’s a greek word. It refers to “households” in the New Testament.
But not households like you and I understand the term, no; not nuclear, 2.4 children single-family homes (what an interesting term. I work in real estate, and I’ve never seen a multi-family home). Households, as in, extended families that function together for a common purpose. Oikos.
Oikos is what sustained the early church through the persecution and murder. It’s what discipleship, evangelism, and mission were all centered around. In fact, outside of the last 150 years in one hemisphere, it’s the way all human beings have lived for all time.
Think of it like family Thanksgiving. Loads of people gather together, the men watch football, the kids play outside, the women bake dishes, everyone eats, people eventually nap, the adults might start playing cards, some will end up staying the night, and everyone is welcome with no condition and is glad to support and be supported.
So why is it that we as the church are content living in status quo with our culture’s fragmentation of oikos into individual, isolated single-families? Why are thanksgiving, Christmas and father’s day the only three times in my year that I feel absolutely welcome somewhere no matter what? For what reasons have we embraced this disastrous experiment that has led to the worst cases and percentages of depression and loneliness that the world has ever seen?
I’ve entered into a prolonged and deep valley of loneliness in my life lately, and I think a really big reason why it’s so draining is because I have no oikos. I don’t think hardly any of us do.
But here’s the wonderful and beautiful and glorious truth about the situation. As Christ’s followers, we have an opportunity that nobody else in the world has. We have a chance to rebuild society, the way it’s supposed to be, and as a shining beacon of contrast in a very dark time where nobody knows any other way.
Maybe it’s time that we stop saying we’re family and start living as one.
Maybe that means having people stay over. Who says sleepovers are for kids? Hell, maybe it means having people live over. Even if you’re married.
Maybe that means paying bills that don’t belong to us, and the person who’s being paid for not feeling an ounce of shame or embarrassment because of it.
Maybe that means who we spend our holidays and vacations and closest moments with isn’t dependent on our blood or our ancestry, but on the blood of Christ as our deepest bond.
Maybe that means taking a sick day at work because a friend showed up on your porch at 6am consumed with agony and dripping tears but more importantly, that the friend never hesitated or felt burdensome in doing so. Because they know they are a part of oikos. They really are family.
I don’t know what it means or looks like exactly, but I know I want it. I know it’s messy and complicated when crooked souls try standing up straight. I know families are dysfunctional and imperfect. But I also know that we’re called to a purpose. I also know that the Holy Spirit has equipped us for a mission; a grand, cosmic narrative that spans all creation. I know that we all have the same Father. We’re all called to be family.
I’m ready for the oikos kind of family.