AN OVERUSED WORD
“Fellowship” is an often abused word which people use to mean any friendly Christian gathering. But the Bible means something more than enjoying a good time in a Christian environment. If not, then a hot dog at the football classifies as fellowship. Rather, fellowship in the Bible is something uniquely Christian. Fellowship is something special for Christians to enjoy and something uniquely beautiful that will draw those who do not believe into the Church. That is a high goal!
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Throughout the Old Testament, a recurring requirement was “fellowship offerings” (Exodus 20:24; 29: 28). These were an acknowledgement that a relationship with God needs our sin to be dealt with. Like any healthy relationship, those things which cause the relationship break down must be resolved. In the case of our relationship with God, our sinful rebellion must be atoned for, so clearly these fellowship offerings also point toward Christ’s sacrifice for us. Accordingly, if the Israelites found fellowship with God through those offerings, how much greater is the fellowship we have with God as a result of Christ’s sacrifice! Christian fellowship, then, must point toward the fellowship that we enjoy with God. This is Christ’s prayer in John
17:21, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Fellowship for the Church, then, is more than simply “hanging out.” The New Testament paints a much grander picture of Christian fellowship than that. In Acts 2:42, we read that the early Church “devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” As we read on, we see that this fellowship meant caring for the down-trodden, welcoming in the outsider, spreading God’s word and sharing with each other.
In another passage, 1 Corinthians 5:2, we see that the Church has a model of fellowship that pursues holiness and purity. While clearly a fellowship of love and welcoming, it is not a community of compromise, but a community of character. The Church is called to hold up a standard of holiness within our fellowship that models our redemption in Christ to the World.
Finally, 2 Corinthians 13:14 shows that true Christian fellowship is ultimately inspired by the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit dwells in us and just as the Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity, so our fellowship reflects the very fellowship of the Trinity itself. What a picture!
NOW FOR US AT FOREST LAKE
We have a high goal at Forest Lake Baptist Church. Christian fellowship is to show to the World around us the very relationship we have with God and the very unity and fellowship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit within the Trinity. This goes beyond programs like Fellowship Teas and Newcomers Lunches, important though these are. Instead, they go to the very way we treat people and the manner in which we welcome new people, invite them over for a coffee or a meal, or show that we value the outcast, or help those in need. This is when we show Christ to those around us.
We each have our role in painting this wonderful picture of fellowship that points to God’s love and holiness by the way we relate to each other. Take up the challenge to walk across the room to someone new or someone you don’t know and show what Christian fellowship looks like.
Next month, we’ll continue our series on “Living in the Church Community” as we look at Church leadership.