Let’s Have Some Fellowship
Last week, we began to talk about how we “do church”. It is a big subject when you are trying to dissect it biblically and then apply it daily. There are the “marks” that should characterize and define each local assembly. However, when you are grounded in the biblical “marks”, there must be an outworking daily in the life of a congregation, flowing from a heart that loves Christ. It is paramount that you have biblically sound preaching and life-to-life discipleship must be woven deeply in the fabric of your congregation. But, if these things are true, what is the glue that holds all these “marks” together? Sure, it may be a direct or indirect result of sound preaching or effective discipleship. The gospel must be central. But without this characteristic it surely spells lifelessness in a body. It is none other than pure, biblical, New Testament flavored fellowship of the believers.
Biblical fellowship has been destroyed in our churches today. Ask the average person what “fellowship” is to them and you will receive a variety of answers and concepts. They will most often tell you something that has no remote resemblance to biblical New Testament fellowship.
Let’s just say this: You have not had “fellowship” nor are you having a “fellowship” when there is a social gathering. Within the context of our culture, social media does not classify as fellowship. Fellowship of believers is not even common social interests that we have among one another. Nor is it common unities around a particular “don’t” that certain Christians may or may not have. The implications of biblical fellowship are far deeper within the context of the local church than most of us have ever experienced before.
We have to turn to the book of Acts to purify the definition that has tarnished the prevalent understanding of fellowship. Acts opens up with the believers receiving the promised Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The New Testament believers were then empowered to live as a redeemed people. At the end of Acts 2, we see that the natural outworking of the Spirit is genuine fellowship. Verse 42 [ESV] tells us, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” If you read the remaining verses of chapter two you will notice the New Testament believers were marked by selflessness. Everything was done with the local body in mind [people of God]. The local church was not just another social activity to be worked into their life; the local church was their life. The people of God were the main concern. They were ready to meet every need – physical or spiritual. If we take a look at the word devoted in verse 42, it reveals the intensity and depth of fellowship. The word meant to be intently engaged, to constantly attend to no matter the cost. Does this sound like any fellowship you know?
Fellowship Starts with You
If you want true fellowship in your local church, you are going to have to devote yourself to it [Acts 2:42-47] . True fellowship shares life with others. It requires transparency and vulnerability – a heart and hand that is opened not closed. In order to have true fellowship as the people of God, it will require you to give emotionally, spiritually, and physically. If we are to have true, intentional, New Testament fellowship in our churches, the initiative will have to begin with you. Fellowship demands you to be intentional. You may have to step out of your comfort zone. You will have to become vulnerable. If you do not desire intentional fellowship with the people of God, then you need to do some soul searching. Fellowship is pursuing relationship even when it hurts or is inconvenient. Fellowship is when believers are united together on the same side of the struggle. Jerry Bridges says this about Acts 2: “Those first Christians of Acts 2 were not devoting themselves to social activities but to relationships.”
How will the world know that we are authentic if we do not have love for one another? Jesus said to His disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another [John 13:35 ESV].”
When viewed biblically, there is no room for lone ranger Christianity in the economy of God. WE must pursue fellowship with the people of God.