A couple of weeks ago on Facebook I saw pictures of a couple at church celebrating their wedding anniversary. Their joy made me think of the life that is being lived in front of the congregation, their dedication to the Lord, attitude towards other people, life, and service.
Certain words immediately came to mind… devotion and fellowship. Knowing what background they came from I have total respect for their devotion to working on their marriage no matter what… their devotion to instilling in their children the importance of fellowship with God.
Our class’s study of 1 John, the series of sermons on this book, recent events.. All of these things made me think of the meaning of fellowship.
God’s wisdom gave us in the Bible a lot of earthly examples so that we can understand spiritual concepts through some human experiences. For example when a man and a woman get married they become “one flesh”, united beyond regular closeness. When we devote ourselves to God when we are immersed in the death, burial and resurrection, “marry” God, make commitment of becoming a follower, we enter into “fellowship with God”.
Here are some thoughts I got from all of that plus an Internet article “Christian Fellowship” on Bible.org.
In Acts 2:42 one of the four things the early church devoted itself to was “fellowship”. Early Christians did not just have fellowship, they devoted themselves to fellowship. It means they made fellowship a priority.
What is “fellowship?”
“According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary it means: (a) companionship, company, associate (vb.); (b) the community of interest, activity, feeling or experience, i.e., a unified body of people of equal rank sharing in common interests, goals, and characteristics, etc.; (c) partnership, membership (an obsolete usage but an important one. It shows what has happened to our ideas of fellowship).
There are three key ideas that come out of this:
(1) Fellowship means being a part of a group, a body of people. It is opposed to isolation, solitude, loneliness, and our present-day independent kind of individualism. Of course, it does not stop there because we can be in a crowd of people and even share certain things in common, but still not have fellowship.
(2) Fellowship means having or sharing with others certain things in common such as interest, goals, feelings, beliefs, activities, labor, privileges and responsibilities, experiences, and concerns.
(3) Fellowship can mean a partnership that involves working together and caring for one another as a company of people, like a company of soldiers or members of a family.”
I am sure you do not think that fellowship is only associated with eating and having various activities in our Fellowship Hall. These things are not bad, they add to fellowship but they do not even come close to the real New Testament meaning of the word.
I am sure your idea of fellowship is deeper than just social activities. True fellowship involves getting together for spiritual purposes: for sharing needs, for prayer, for discussing and sharing the Word to encourage, comfort, and edify one another.
Two Greek words used for fellowship may help us understand the deeper still meaning of the word.
“Koinwnia” (n) and Koinwneo (vb)
Main ideas are “to share together, take part together” in the sense of partnership or participation, and “share with” in the sense if giving to others.
Means “sharing in, a partaking of” (Hebrews 3:1,14; 6:4; 12:8), “a partner, associate” (Hebrews 1:9, Luke 5:7)
So, the main ideas behind the concept of fellowship are the following:
Is our goal just to have relations with each other, partner in projects, have a shoulder to cry on and take care of what is given to us? All these earthly words, concepts are shadows, examples so that we can understand with our feeble minds what God means in 1 John 1 when He talks about “fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ”.
When we have meals and parties in Fellowship Hall it teaches us that we should like spending time with God the same way we like spending time with our Church family.
When we work together doing whatever needs to be done, it teaches us to work with God on His “projects” (for example sharing the Good News with those who need hearing it)
When we pray together, share joy or tears with each other, it teaches us to rely on God for support.
When we take care of our earthly things, it teaches us about privileges and responsibilities of taking care of what God gives us.
The depth of the concept blows my mind. Though it is very simple. If we claim to be followers, we just need to do it.
6 If we claim to have fellowship (relations, partnership, companionship, stewardship) with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship (relations, partnership, companionship, stewardship) with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1)
Devotion to the life of fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, making it a priority over anything else that the outside world calls priorities is what the family pictures on Facebook made me think about.