What makes God’s people stand out? What makes us different from the world around us?
One of the ways this world will come to know our Holy Father is by the way we show love for one another through our fellowship. We’ll stand out from a world that’s lost its way and lost its love – a world of relationships fractured by selfishness. Let’s look at how fellowship is defined through biblical intent and see how God expects us to get to know each other in a deeper way.
The early church of God was born within a hostile society. Jesus had just been crucified by Roman hands at the behest of the Jewish leadership, and it was not popular or healthy to be a follower of Christ. The newly converted were developing a new culture based on God’s way in a world quite contrary to that way, they had to stay close to one another because they were all they had.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved,” Acts 2:42-47, NKJV.
The newly converted eagerly joined with the apostles in spite of hardship. They worshiped together, prayed together, and ate together, gladly selling all their possessions and giving to those in need so no one would be without. Fulfilling the meaning of Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Later on, during Paul’s travels in Greece, he elaborated to the church at Corinth about the generosity of the congregations in Macedonia, who despite their poverty sent as much as they could to the brethren suffering famine in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8 and 9). They were poor, but eager to help. They set a powerful example of family fellowship – brethren involving themselves with helping brethren.
Jesus Christ involved Himself with people because He wanted to get to know them. Christ’s earliest recorded miracle was, at His mother’s request, to turn water into fine wine during a wedding celebration (John 2). Why did He do this? It certainly wasn’t to get drunk. This miracle served to show that Christ was the Messiah, and that He liked to be with people. He wanted the rejoicing to continue, so He changed the water into wine, the celebration was prolonged, and everyone enjoyed extended mutual fellowship.
Fellowship means stepping out from our comfort zone and approaching others with an open mind and an open heart. But what exactly is biblical fellowship?
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had,” Philippians 2:1-5, NLT.
Biblical fellowship means that abrasiveness, insincerity, resentment or a judgmental spirit must be replaced with unselfish, outwardly concerned agape love for others, thereby exemplifying the God-family relationship. Some of us come from broken families and haven’t experienced what a loving secure environment looks like, or even feels like. If we are who we say we are, this is our opportunity to heal that wound and grow within the spiritual family of God’s Church.
As we can see fellowship is a very important teaching, a doctrine of the Church of God. It builds harmony and cohesion within God’s family and was taught and exemplified to us by Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the early church. God made us to need and rely on one another because it’s His way of taking care of us.
God the Father and Jesus Christ eagerly desire fellowship with each one of us. Let’s consider how we can spur one another to a greater love of God through our genuine love and concern for each other, and attain a greater depth of spiritual growth. We’re a spiritual family and, just like the early church, in so many ways we’re all we’ve got!
by Bob Kehoe