Friday, July 19, 2013

What Is Fellowship? Part II

In our last post I took some time to share with you what fellowship was not. I listed six things that do not constitute Christian fellowship. Today I will include a seventh.

  • Fellowship is not two men in a ship
  • Fellowship is not simply an event
  • Fellowship is not merely having conversation
  • Fellowship is not sharing a common activity
  • Fellowship is not secular
  • Fellowship is not accomplished with unbelievers
  • Fellowship is not sharing a common interest
There is no doubt that fellowship can include at least six of these seven things. The key is to realize that simply utilizing or participating in these things does not necessarily constitute biblical or Christian fellowship.

My main premise or thesis yesterday was to suggest that the first major part in understanding fellowship was to define it. In other words we need to be on the same page. This term or this concept means meaning different things to different people. 

For example, attending a Seahawks game doesn't qualify for fellowship. No doubt fellowship could take place there, however, the mere attendance at the game with one or more people doesn't constitute fellowship. Why? 

You may attend the game and you might even wear the number 12, 12th man jersey, but guess what? You are just a fan. You can shout, cheer, stomp, and do the wave but you are just a sideline fan. You are not a part of the Seahawks football organization.

Fellowship takes more that attendance or having a common interest in something. Same goes for church attendance or even a men's prayer/bible study fellowship. One can attend and even have a common interest but be on the sidelines just the same. 

Having dinner, going to a ball game, attending church or even helping out a VBS can be done by anyone. The difference between events and activities and Christian fellowship is that it is spiritual in nature and participatory. Remember, the term used in the New Testament refers to a common participation in spiritual activities: a sharing, a participation, intercourse, intimacy, and or a joint contribution.

J. I. Packer has a fantastic definition of Christian fellowship:

"[Fellowship is] a sharing with our fellow-believers the things that God made known to us about himself, in hope that we may thus help them to know Him better and so enrich their fellowship with Him. Fellowship is, secondly, a seeking to share what God has made known of himself to others, as a means to finding strength, refreshment, and instruction for one's own soul."

For example:

"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread and in prayers. (Acts 2:42, NKJV)

Take your concordance or your bible software program (I recommend three that are excellent and free - ONLINE Bible; eSword, and/or The Word) and follow the words participation, "sharing", "fellowship", and/or "taking part." You can of course use your Thompson Chain Reference bible also - thanks Jim Hodges for your wonderful gift to me!

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5, NKJV)

"Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. (II Corinthians 8:1-4, KJV)

So, what is fellowship? Let's get on the same page shall we? Fellowship is sharing the things that God has revealed about Himself in order to benefit one another for the express purpose of edifying or the building up of one another by instructing, reproving, correcting, refreshing so that one is made more into the image of Christ for His glory.

This can take place anywhere. It can take place in your living room, your car, a Seahawks game, a pot-luck, a men's prayer/bible study, corporate worship, The Electric Bean (our local "Christian" coffee shop) or at the Keg Steak and Ale House.

Fellowship is spiritual. It centers on the inner man. Fellowship includes blending together in the bonds of Christ resulting in spiritual benefits for one another. Fellowship always benefits the beleiver.

Fellowship is not calling for a pot-luck on the 5th Sunday of the month where everyone "chows-down" on Fried Chicken and beans while talking about the weather, the grandchildren, or will Russell Wilson will take it to the next level. 

By the way, I also do not mean to imply that fellowship is "stained glass windows and high cathedral ceiling" super-sainthood either. I hope that goes without saying. One may rave on the Southern Fried Chicken or the cutest thing the grand-kids said yesterday as means to leading into spiritual fellowship.

Let's talk a little more about fellowship again, what do you say? Join me on Monday, Lord willing.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post and again absorbing to read, Look forward to the next post.


Susan said...

We (and I mean I) are so easily sidetracked. Easily any of the above are substituted for true fellowship, and I often mistake them for fellowship too. True fellowship has Jesus in our midst...and how often are things said or done that would not have been had Jesus truly been bodily present in our midst? And we can be very good at faking reverence, with stained glass windows and high sounding religiosity, and I also am guilty, again. That isn't it either. The tax collector had a true posture when he confessed "God have mercy on me a sinner"...and He does...and that knowledge and the fact of it would show in fruit that manifests when we are gathered with other Christians, as well as when we are gathered with non-believers...testimony in life living as well as words. It is where the rubber meets the road, isn't it?

Gregg Metcalf said...

Susan - unfortunately we are easily side-tracked. Also true fellowship is just too hard. It isn't easy being open, honest, transparent, and Christ-like.