The cost of true fellowship/conclusion
I ended the previous post with this statement:
“Christian fellowship is something that is done within the context of what He is building spiritually, not within the context of what man has and continues to build on earth”
The majority of the professing Christian world entirely disagrees with the above statement. Their “fellowship” is predominately found within the confines of structures man has built, regardless of the denomination (brand name). Most people consider this a moot point-they would say it doesn’t really matter where one meets but only whether Jesus is present. To this I partly agree. Still, “Would you say that fellowship is an event to which you attend or a lifestyle in which you live?” Let’s look over some verses in the Bible that relate to or express Christian fellowship and how they read.
“…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” [1 John 1:3]
John the apostle is of course talking about those individuals who personally walked with the Lord Jesus and their responsibility to pass along the truth concerning Him, the Word of Life (1 John 1:1). Paul the apostle also met Jesus upon the Damascus road, but more importantly was given a revelation of Jesus by Him which he was called to preach among first the Jews, then primarily the Gentiles. This gospel, which Jude considered to be “the faith” needed to be defended and passed along to subsequent generations. Paul passed the truth about Jesus unto many others including Timothy to whom he admonished:
“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which are in Christ Jesus” [2 Timothy 1:13, 14] also,
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” [2 Timothy 2:2]
The principle of passing down the truth, “the faith once delivered” and the importance thereof cannot be overstated. Unless some of God’s people purposefully safeguard the truths and practice of the faith, they will become corrupted over time or even lost to future generations. This obviously would include the non-negotiables we discussed earlier as well.
“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” [1 John 1:6, 7]
We have already talked about our need to “abide” in this relationship and that this enables to offer to others what our Father is working into and through us. We also need to note that true fellowship is with people who are walking in the light, they are not actively living in sin or darkness. Regardless of where people meet for fellowship, it’s important to know that the participants are walking in the light.
“Take care, brethren, that there not be any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” [Hebrews 3:12, 13]
The warning above is very serious. Obviously Jesus thinks that anything short of seeking Him daily among one another is a dangerous risk that can invite deception. Do you seek Him daily and whenever you can amongst the brethren?
“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” [1 Corinthians 14:26]
This verse is specifically relating to when a local group of Christians gather in a specific locale. Notice that “each one has” something to offer (out of their spiritual giftedness), the assembly is not taught nor directed by any specific individual or is their an exact routine or preplanned agenda. That’s specifically due to the fellowship participants being led by the Holy Spirit and not by a man or a group of leaders.
“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” [1 Thessalonians 2:8]
This is the right attitude. Not merely just sharing the truths of God but each others hurt, pains and even material goods as our Father leads each one.
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” [1 John 3:16-18]
This is part of denying oneself and taking up one’s cross. We look for ways to help serve one another’s needs.
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” [Philippians 2:1, 2]
Here is a picture of a growing assembly of believers who are focused on Christ and growing together.
“…..so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” [1 Corinthians 12:25, 26]
A true picture of sharing amongst believers. No one individual is primary as only Jesus is center stage. All have the same care one for another.
“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and their be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are divisions among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided?” [1 Corinthians 1:10-13]
Paul is obviously condemning their secular distinctions here. In today’s language it would read, “I am Baptist,” “I am Penecostal,” or “I am Lutheran.” Any religious distinction or name (denomination) or earthly title is prohibited as they divide the body of Christ. Truth is what binds and separates the true Christians from the false. Even a religious title such as “Pastor” or “Priest” or “Reverend” is also condemned as that places prominence upon one believer over another. That is not showing the SAME CARE one for another as the verse above describes.
God’s people fellowship in the Spirit and on a heavenly plane altogether. Anything earthly that diminishes or shrouds that reality must be rejected and abandoned.
“I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” [John 17:23]
This is the desire of Jesus herein and the result of the totality of the above verses being lived amongst Christians. This is how God is calling every one of His sons and daughters to fellowship and to live, in this like manner. Now you may ask, “Where do I find such fellowship?”
You have to be prepared yourself
Seriously, “Have you ever considered the cost to you personally to live all of the above?” That’s exactly what you will have to do if you want to know and live in the beauty of the “fellowship of the saints.” It is not something you can attend, it is something you must become. You have to embrace God’s truth as it is, count the cost of being His disciple and walk in the manner of life in which He has prescribed. Only after you do, can you take upon yourself the responsibility of being a channel for this type of fellowship, something many, many people around the globe have already chosen to do.
No person, Christian or otherwise, can contribute to what they themselves have no knowledge of. Just as one must believe and repent before seeing the kingdom of God, so must each deny themselves, abandon their own dreams and desires and allow Jesus to lead you where He would. Just as if you are entering heaven itself, nothing of the former life can be brought with you. It is the Bible, God’s people and Jesus from now on- all else must be left behind.
Once Your Father has adequately prepared you, then you can start to pray for someone to join you upon this road. One here, two there, maybe three gathering together in His name. You are not looking for the masses, you are not trying to build or be anything at all, you are simply gathering and fellowshipping IN HIS NAME.
In due time, and provided you stay the course and remain worthy, Father might use your life to help show others the ONE VEHICLE through which His will is accomplished-that which supports His truth. That is the place where true fellowship is established, truth is lived and spoken- where the world will take notice, and where God Himself is given His rightful glory.