The Church's Purpose to Love People
Is Expressed Through Fellowship
Getting to Know & Love One Another, Fellow Believers
The Priority of Fellowship:
- mankind created for human community (Gen. 2:18)
- corporate aspect in both Old Testament life and in the New Testament Church (Gen. 12:2; Eph. 2:19-22)
- devotion of early church to fellowship (Acts 2:42)
- Jesus' prayer for oneness patterned after the Trinity (John 17:20-23)
- commanded not to forsake relationship with one another which requires that time be spent with one another (Heb. 10:25)
- corporate dimension in the life to come (Rev. 21:2-22:5; Heb. 11:10, 13-14; 1 Thess. 4:16-18; Phil. 3:20)
Relationship with others is of extreme importance, standing next to our relationship with God Himself. (See Matt. 22:37-39.)
Relationship with fellow believers takes priority and goes deeper than what we are to have with those who do not know the Lord. (See Gal. 6:10.)
God's people were never intended to walk the walk alone. Consider phrases that are used to describe the church:
--"fellow citizens with God's people"
--"members of God's household"
--"in Him the whole building is joined together"
--"family of God"
Let's avail ourselves of resources to help us engage in true fellowship with one another.
The Program for Fellowship:
- first fellowship with God, then with others (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Jn. 1:3, 6-7)
- extended upon recognition of God's grace in a person's life (Gal. 2:9)
- among believers, not with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:11)
- if out of fellowship with God, not going to find true fellowship with one another (1 Jn. 1:6-7)
True fellowship transcends the temporal boundaries of age, gender, social status, intelligence, marital status, and any other distinction which can be made. (See Gal. 3:26-28.) If Christ received a person into a relationship with Himself based on grace, that should be enough for us to extend fellowship to them. The primary basis of fellowship is our shared life in Christ. Everything else is secondary. We need to see people as they are in Christ. Only issues which affect the essence of the Gospel are cause for a break in fellowship.
The tendency is to be interested in people to whom we are naturally attracted because of common interests or status in life. The common practice is for churches to structure along these lines. While some of this can be healthy, if it becomes the norm we take away opportunity for the essence of true fellowship. Jesus died to destroy barriers. (See Eph. 2:11-22.)
To be in fellowship with those different than ourselves will require us to stay in fellowship with God Himself, to have a good understanding of the meaning of grace, and to love with a supernatural love.
The Process for Fellowship:
- communion --sharing the Lord's supper together (1 Cor. 10:16)
- contribution --sharing materially with one another (Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:3-4; 9:13; Phil. 4:15)
- communication --sharing our faith with one another (Phile. 1:6)
- community --sharing the whole of our lives with one another on a regular basis (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35)
Fellowship ("koinonia") is a sharing or participation in that which we have in common.
"koinos" = common
This can take various forms or be expressed in a variety of ways. You will find the word "koinonia" in the Scripture for each of the above processes.
In Christ we are one Body. The objective of fellowship is to become in practice what we are in our standing in Him.
The Product of Fellowship:
- unity among believers (Phil. 2:1-4)
- desire to pray for one another because of genuine concern (Phil. 1:3-5)
- an effective witness to the world around us (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:23)
As the early church devoted themselves to fellowship balanced with truth, and did so with "glad and sincere hearts," others took notice. (See Acts 2:42-47.)
"And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47).
More on Fellowship:
- Does True Fellowship Need to be Restored in the Church?
- Church Fellowship Ideas in a High Tech, Low Touch World
- Getting Disillusioned People to Open Themselves to True Fellowship
- Ideas for Getting Busy People to Engage in True Fellowship
- Stressed Out People Need True Fellowship
- The Church is a Community
- True Body Life Results in Fellowship
- Resources & Ideas for Fellowship