Well, here we are at the first Lord's Day of the new year 2010. Echoing what just about everyone is saying, "Where did the last ten years go?" To me, they were just like old Job's "weaver's shuttle" (Job 7:6), they just flew by. And when we think about the passing of time, I would hope that all of us used our time in the most optimal way possible and that would be our "labor" in Christ's vineyard. If we didn't, and I'm sure that all of us can do better in the future, let's make it our resolution for this coming year to strive to increase our "labor."
For our first editorial under consideration for this year, I'm going to offer you a brief lesson in a topic that I believe everyone of us enjoy and like to participate in. I would even say this - that if a person says they're a Christian and doesn't like our topic - they ain't! Since our topic is "fellowship" I think you get my drift. We'll even look at some scriptural passages that back up what I just opined.
We just passed through probably the season that speaks to "fellowship" more than any other time of the year, didn't we? Starting with Thanksgiving and the family gatherings on that occasion and then the Christmas holidays with even more family fellow shipping plus, you know, the "peace on earth" and the "good-will to men" you'd have to agree with me about this being the "fellowship season." So let's talk about this subject for "fellowship" for a few moments.
For editorial purposes, there are three kinds of "fellowship" I'm going to cover here today. My first Bible reference is found in 1 John 1:3 which basically tells us that if we are in "fellowship" with the Gospel, then we are in "fellowship with God and Jesus Christ." First and foremost, it is the Gospel that tells us what the proper way is for man to have "fellowship" with the Father and The Son.
If you were to run a reference on the word "fellowship" you'd find it described in various ways, such as: "communion, a partnership or a holding with, and also, a partaker with." A thesaurus will tell you that the word "fellowship" has a close relationship to words like: "an affiliation, or an association." It also relates to words such as: "a cooperation and a society." The word "society" is a good word to keep in mind as we go through our lesson today.
In all of our aforementioned definitions we see that "fellowship" indicates a social relationship between individuals. In other words, there has to be more than one person involved in order to have "fellowship." It is a group thing and not something that relates to a single individual. And, thinking about that, we're going to see that there are three sides to our "fellowship" discussion today. Let's consider them for a few moments.
As we start our discussion on the "sides" keep in mind that God made man a "free, moral agent" IE: we have the option of fellow shipping with whom we want to fellowship. That brings us to the first and worst "side" - that we can opt to "fellowship" with - the Devil. The Gospel tells us in 1 Cor. 10:20-21 that a Christian "cannot" have "fellowship" with "devils" and remain a Christian. God does not share "fellowship" with Satan. Further proof of this can be seen by reading 2Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5, verses 6-7 and verse 11.
Our second "side" of fellowship is the one that probably comes to mind first when "fellowship" is mentioned. It's the social use of the word that most people relate to, such as what is referred to as "social activities." I'd like to take this occasion to warn us to NOT think of this type of "fellowship" as being the most important. We'll get to the most important "side" of "fellowship" in just a moment.
But, having said that, still our "fellowship" with "the saints" in social activities is important to our spiritual lives. It is this "association" or "affiliation" that helps strengthen us. Why? Because we live and operate in "the world" IE: we're surrounded by a world of unbelievers so who better to spend time with than our Christian family? To "commune" with fellow believers? Did you ever consider that this is one of the reasons the Church is designed by God as a social entity?
That, as a "company of Christians" enjoying an activity or an outing of some sort, we not only build each other up, we show the world that Christians can be faithful to God and also enjoy the "good" things of life. That we can have fun too. When you really think about this, who truthfully can have more fun than Christians because they know that the "good things" of this world are here for them and they know that the "best things" are yet to come.
Let's go back for a moment to the Church being a "social entity." We can say this because the Bible tells us to "assemble together," doesn't it? To "not forsake" our assembling because it's through this "communion" with the members that we draw strength and as a body, we further the "mission" of the Church. (Eph 3:10-11) It is also here that we contact the third "side" of our lesson on "fellowship."
Remember my opinion that you can't say you're a Christian and not want to "fellowship" other Christians? Well, Peter tells us that we are to "love the brotherhood" (1Pet. 2:17) and John tells us that we are to "love one another" and that when we do that, God "dwells in us." (1John 4) There are other passages we could look at here, but these two are enough to make us know that there's no way a person can say they "love" another brother and then not want to "fellowship" with them. If that attitude is there, then God doesn't "dwell" in them and that substantiates my opinion.
As the Church, a group of believers gathered together at the appointed time, we "fellowship" with God and our Savior Jesus Christ. We combine our voices in songs and hymns of praise; we offer our prayers and as we gather about "the table" we become "partakers" of the Lord's Supper and remember the sacrifice made for us that we might become "joint heirs" with Him. This is the most important "fellowship" we can have during our life here on earth.
One last thought on why the Church is a "social entity" - a community or an association of believers. One of the definitions of the word "commune" is: a close-knit community of people who share common interests. I ask you, isn't that what the Church - what the brotherhood is? Our "common interests" are the professing of the Gospel of Christ to the world and the combining of ourselves to that endeavor and the helping of each other to remain righteous in an unrighteous world. Read the 6th chapter of Galatians for evidence of that statement. All of this is accomplished through "fellowship."
Also in support of the above paragraph, let me close with some words of wisdom from the pen of Solomon. "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up." (Eccl. 4:9-10)