Fellowship Involves Communion
Fellowship involves communion and friendship with God. Fellowship connects you with other believers in the Spirit of God and with God’s blessings.
In the beginning Adam was placed in the Garden to enjoy friendship and communion with God. When Adam and Eve chose to assert themselves rather than live under the Creator’s gracious care, the fellowship was broken. As a result, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord’s presence Genesis 3:8. Yet God immediately sought them out and revealed his plan for the restoration of sinners through the work of the Redeemer Genesis 3:15.
The Old Testament tells how God began to draw a special people into fellowship with himself. Enoch is described as a man who walked with God Genesis 5:22, 24. Noah, likewise, walked with the Lord Genesis 6:9. And Abraham, the father of Israel, is called “the friend of God” James 2:23. No Old Testament person had deeper fellowship with God than did Moses during his forty-day encounter with the Lord on Mount Sinai Exodus 24. Later in Israel’s history, David wrote psalms that reflect a heart in tune with the living God Psalms 16; 34; 40; 63.
As a result of Christ’s work on the cross, God now makes his permanent home in each believer’s heart John 14:23. The fellowship that now takes place is nothing less than the spiritual union of the believer with Christ 14:20-21. Fellowship with God is the goal of the Christian life 1 John 1:3, and this relationship will be perfected forever when we see our Savior “face to face” 1 Corinthians 13:12, when God dwells with his people in eternity Revelation 21:3.
The gospel restores fellowship not only with God but also among believers. Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples illustrates that these are related Mark 14:22-25. In the upper room, Jesus shared with his disciples a sacred love feast. The hearts of the Lord and his followers were knit together by a deep sense of love and commitment.
Later, the disciples discovered that their own hearts were strongly united out of their common loyalty to Jesus. Following the cross and the outpouring of the Spirit, the church was born-that new society of people in fellowship with God and with one another.
The depth of fellowship among the first Christians is portrayed in the early chapters of Acts. The believers met together in house groups for teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer Acts 2:42, 46. So profound was their sense of togetherness that the Christians pooled their possessions together and distributed them to brothers and sisters in need Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35. Love among the believers may have been the dominant characteristic of the early church 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22.
Motivated by love, Paul organized a collection for poor believers in Jerusalem. In Romans 15:26, which speaks of the gifts of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia, the word translated “contribution” is the common Greek word for “fellowship.” Similarly, the fellowship that the Philippians' church shared with Paul was expressed by the gifts they gave to support the apostle’s ministry Philippians 1:5; 4:14-15.
Scripture uses several images to describe the spirit of togetherness of the early church. The first is “the household of God” Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15 or “the household of faith” Galatians 6:10. In God’s household, love and hospitality are to be the rule Hebrews 13:1-2. Further, the church is depicted as the family of God on earth Ephesians 3:15. God is the Father, and believers are his faithful sons and daughters.
The life of God’s family is to be governed by love, tenderness, compassion, and humility Philippians 2:1-4.
Finally, the Christian fellowship is represented as the “one new man” or the “one body” Ephesians 2:15-16.
In spite of the great differences in the body, the Holy Spirit binds believers together into a single being Ephesians 4:4-6. In this fellowship of love, no believer is unnecessary. Each member has been given gifts for the spiritual building up of the entire body.
Scripture gives the basis of fellowship in 1 John 1:7: “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (RSV). Jesus Christ, then, is the source and fount of all spiritual communion.
Only when rightly related to the Lord do we experience true fellowship with another Christian. Just as light and darkness are incompatible, so a believer can have no real fellowship with an unbeliever. Neither can the Christian be in fellowship with one who walks contrary to the teaching of Christ 2 John 1:9-11, or a professing Christian who is immoral, idolatrous, a drunkard, or a thief 1 Corinthians 5:11.
Scripture lays down several guidelines for enhancing the communion of believers:
Love one another with the same compassion that Christ displayed to his own John 13:34-35; 15:12
The law of the fellowship should be the rule of love Hebrews 13:1
Cultivate that spirit of humility that seeks the other person’s honor, not your own Philippians 2:3-5
Lighten fellow believers’ loads by bearing one another’s burdens Galatians 6:2
Share your possessions with brothers and sisters in need 2 Corinthians 9:13
Tenderly correct a sinner while helping to find solutions to her or his problems Galatians 6:1
Listen to a fellow believer in times of suffering 1 Corinthians 12:26
Pray for one another in the Spirit without ceasing Ephesians 6:18
The Christian will want to take seriously this quote from an anonymous saint: “You cannot draw nigh to God if you are at a distance from your brother.”
Put into practice, these guidelines will help all believers to have fellowship one with another, despite our differences.