WHAT A FELLOWSHIP
On the evening of January 25, 1978, much of the Midwestern United States was hit with what has been described as the worst blizzard of the century. Total snowfall ranged from 18 inches to more than 3 feet. Winds averaged nearly 50 miles per hour. Drifts grew to more than 15 feet high. The great blizzard of ’78 brought the heartland of America to a complete standstill.
An article appeared in the South Bend Tribune the next week. It said that even among all the tragedy, misfortune, and inconveniences, there were also some benefits. According to the writer, one positive by-product of the great storm was the “feeling of companionship” with people making an extra effort to help one another. This spontaneous togetherness brought about a fellowship and unity that has seldom, if ever, been seen before. The article was summed up in this way, “Perhaps we are all a little bit better citizens, and the community a little tighter knit, as a result of what we have endured.
In the same issue of that newspaper, a story was told of a man trapped in his truck ---alone. For him, the blizzard brought no positive results. Why was that? Because he was totally alone. He experienced none of the togetherness. He experienced a living nightmare.
The need for people to be together is nothing new. Since God made man, He knew that man needed someone to be with. Just as God knew that man should not be alone physically, He determined that he should not be alone spiritually either. Both as an individual and as a Christian, togetherness is life.
We need the encouragement, support, spiritual blessings, and love that only Christian fellowship can provide. We need to once again become the true ekklesia – the called-out ones. We need, above all else, to be the Church.
The word, “fellowship” is mentioned 9 times in the Bible. Eight of these are found in the New Testament, and only once in the Old Testament. That, in Leviticus 6:2. And there it refers to the making of an agreement by a shaking of hands. In a sense, joining hands is a venture together.
The references in the New Testament are identified by the terms “communion” and “partnership.” Using what one has in common with one another. Fellowship, then, in the Christian life, is a partnership, a joint participation, sharing with the community of Christ. And, of course, His community is the Church. It is only through fellowship with Christ that fellowship with fellow Christians is possible.
As an introduction to fellowship and what it should mean to us and how it should be exercised we will take a look at some of the Scriptures which describe fellowship in the early church.
1 John 1:6-7 tells us “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Anything that destroys fellowship cannot be true. Truth is the creator of fellowship. John is saying that “If you really know what the sacrifice of Christ has done and are really experiencing its power, day by day you will be adding holiness to your life and becoming more fit to enter the presence of God.” Along with this power and holiness, we become closer to our fellow Christians – thus creating fellowship. We can never know one without the other because it is Christ’s blood that binds us together.
John teaches us further, 1 John 1:3 when he says: “…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” So, it is through the sharing of God’s Word and the witness of Jesus that we are able to have fellowship with one another and with the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Moving on to the church in Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” We find that fellowship was a part of the early church’s worship. They continued steadfastly, remaining faithful to the teachings of the Gospel with regular worship, regular fellowship, prayers, and the breaking of bread.
They held all things in common. This was a vital way they carried out true fellowship. We can see that they wanted to be a part of one another in every ministry and event of the church. The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 gives us the example of the Macedonian Christians, who, out of their poverty gave liberally, creating fellowship with one another. Their giving was in order to supply the needs of one another. They wanted to participate (have fellowship) in the support of the saints.
Again, the Apostle Paul urges the church in Galatia toward fellowship. Here he says in Galatians 2:9: “…and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reported to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship so that we might go to the Gentiles and then to the circumcised. They only asked us to remember the poor – the very thing I also was eager to do.” There was the desire to work together for the cause of Christ. We should have the desire to join our hands and our hearts in fellowship – or in partnership with Christ and our fellow workers. And then, go tell the lost about Jesus.
And finally, Paul encourages the church in Philippi in this way: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
People are said to be in fellowship when they are so unified that what belongs to one belongs to all the others. What is true of one is true of all the others. Like elements can be united. Unlike elements or those at odds with one another, cannot be united. Christians are to be partakers in common of the same mind as God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. When those elements are solid the fellowship of the saints will be solid as well.
God desires that every believer be a functioning member of a local church – a local “body” or “family” of believers. These believers mutually care for one another, minister to one another, and consequently build up one another in Christ.
The first step in becoming a part of that family and fellowship is to become a real, practicing, functional child of God. That is, to become a Christian, a follower of Christ. Make Him your Savior in your daily walk which will include the fellowship of the saints.
Gary’s Wednesday Word Princeton Christian Church 14 July 2021