Becoming a Healthier Church: Fellowship-May 8, 2013
1 John 3-4, 7
Fellowship like all of the other five walls are begins first with God and His desiring fellowship with us. God comes to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. He also created us to want and desire to live in fellowship with Him. The fellowship God intended was broken by sin and disobedience. God loved us so much and that fellowship with us was so important that He was willing to send His Son to die in our place paying the penalty for our sins and re-establishing Jesus Himself as the Way back to true fellowship with God.
Fellowship is of God and it begins in our relationship with Him and is understood and lived out in our relationships with other believers first. God reaching out and inviting us back to Him. Today we too can look at fellowship much the same way and we invite people in to connect to God with us and through us. This connection is strengthened through tough times and the times of celebration. Paul in his letter to the Philippians speaks of knowing the fellowship of His sufferings…there is fellowship when we live together in relationship with Him and one another.
Before we spoke about vital relationships and that most folks are not able to have too many. Generally 8 to 16 and Jesus had 12 disciples that He poured His life’s teaching into. When we think of fellowship we must look at this as vital and mutual and is not just an event we plan. This deeper fellowship can begin at one of these events but once people are invited in to join we also must create connections for them in the body of Christ. Without those connections the people may attend the church but may never really know fellowship.
The arrow on blueprint one shows it starting inside and moving out. Fellowship is a place where the people begin to understand themselves to be the body of Christ and as an extension of His redeeming work. This is done through our living out our lives as forgiven people who also are extending the grace of God to one another for mutual harmony, unity, and the building up of the body of Christ. In lifting up Christ people will be drawn to Him and we also need to help them to make vital connections to the body, if not they are not fully.
Take for example a Lego block these blocks are meant to connect to one another in different ways. Some of these blocks have more connection points than others but when they are filled up they are filled up. These blocks can be a lot like us, some feel more comfortable having multiple vital connects and others are not as comfortable. These connections can become more complicated when we get comfortable with our connections and aren’t able to help make room for others. If there are 8 people in a small group and they have all their vital connections in one place then that group becomes a closed group and the newcomer has no place to make a connection. This typically not intentional at all, but to help others connect will take some intentionality and perhaps helping them to find places to connect to the body.
It is in sharing these times of suffering and grief that we will gather others around. You will only gather others around you by giving yourself away to them as Christ died for us. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake assembling together and too often when difficulties arise people pull away from church and Christ rather than running to the only one who can help.
In I John, John writes about having fellowship with other believers. There are three principles with behind true Christian fellowship. First, our fellowship is grounded in the testimony of God’s Word. Without this underlying strength, togetherness is impossible. Second, it is mutual, depending on the unity of believers. Third, it is renewed daily through the Holy Spirit. True fellowship combines social and spiritual interaction, and it is made possible only through a living relationship with Christ. Let us encourage one another as Christ has us and let us reach out to others in Christ’s love providing room for them to connect to the mutual sharing of the body of Christ.
*A couple of notes came from the Life Application Study Bible.