I wish to encourage you to value fellowship as our Lord values it. We live in a time when, people who call themselves Christian, increasingly live in wilful isolation from the Body of Christ, the Church. While in their minds, there may be circumstances and reasons that justify this condition, however, here’s the question begging an answer, “Is isolation the best God has for His redeemed people”?
Immunization against this vulnerability is found through raising our understanding of God’s design and intention for fellowship within the Body of Christ. In the Greek New Testament, fellowship (koinōnia), speaks of relationship with partnership, of mutual participation and communion, it expresses the very best of intimacy in a relationship.
It all started in the beginning, with mankind being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), having the capacity to experience fellowship, as did God. The apostle John summarised the nature of this fellowship in 1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light, as he (Christ) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. The richness of authentic fellowship with fellow believers is made possible, firstly, because of the substitutionary blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Faith in Christ taking our place on the cross activates God’s forgiveness for our sin. Secondly, genuine fellowship only occurs when we mutually walk in the light of understanding obedience to Christ as Lord, this is the expected result of Jesus cleansing us of our sin.
The apostle Paul further explains to the Corinthian believers, that it is Christ who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s persevering, securing work in us is because God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:8-9). God’s intention is to fellowship with mankind, through Christ’s fellowship with those who have Him as Lord of their lives. This fellowship is eternal by design, purchased by Christ’s death on the cross, is activated by our gifted faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), is maintained by Christ, is interceded for by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26), and looks forward to when Christ will present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (Jude 1:24). Simply put, fellowship is primarily about God, through Christ, energised by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are simply the participants in this wonderfully divine relationship fellowship.
We should look at our fellow believers, who are no more imperfect than we are, and view them differently from every other relationship, because we recognize the uniqueness of the fellowship relationship that God has placed us in. Our fellowship with God is found in Christ, our fellowship with one another is equally found in Christ, and together, our eternally secure hope of Heaven is found in Christ with one another. Fellowship is not optional, it is a sovereign working out of the mind, will, and mercy of God Almighty (Ephesians 1:1-14). This is a spiritual working of the triune God within us, as the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14) is manifest in the Body of Christ.
Understanding fellowship enables us to accept why we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14). Our privileged position of mutual fellowship in Christ should motivate purity, inspire united worship, spur us to look for opportunities to encourage faithfulness, and grow hope for the ultimate expression of fellowship in Heaven. Indeed, fellowship is a wonderful and exhilarating component of being together in Christ, but only when viewed as God sees it. When self is excluded, fellowship has unimaginable and glorifying potential. Likewise, Christian marriage holds earths’ highest potential for the richest of fellowship.
Being spiritually and physically together in the Body of Christ, the local church, is the only place we can worship together, encourage, build up, train, grow in the knowledge of the Word of God, grow toward maturity in Christ, prepare for evangelism, serve and meet the needs of one other. The church is to be the expressive body and life of Christ on earth, and we make it what it is together in Christ. The local congregation is where we lose ourselves in God’s love; we accept one another, forgive one another, are reconciled to one another, carry and support one another, place no earthly and unreasonable expectations on one another, give time and grace for change to one another, and pray for one another, etc.
A desire to be isolated from the church is sadly a desire to diminish and ultimately extinguish God’s design for fellowship in Christ. It’s a direct attack against the sovereignty, grace and Lordship of Christ as the Holy Spirit strives to exalt Christ within us. The great enemy of God loves it this way, to fragment, to weaken, and to make the Body of Christ impotent. The way to defeat that roaring enemy of ours, is to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Today, praise God for the privilege of fellowship. Walk as a Spirit filled child of God, in the family of God, ruled by the Word of God. Be encouraged in this sometimes challenging part of Christian life. Encourage others who are outside of God’s will, to get back into fellowship so that God can bring glory to Himself through our fellowship in Christ.
Together in Christ: Lincoln Forlong