A time when friends interested in the same thing come together. In the Bible, fellowship often means the friendship Christians share because they love God and His Son, Jesus.
A. The Purpose of Fellowship
The fellowship of Christians together is very important, for it is in our unity together that…
1. The Believer is Encouraged and Grows in Christ
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Rom 1:11-12).
2. The World Comes to Know that Jesus was sent of God
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:22-23).
B. Conditions of Fellowship
1. A Basic Commitment to One Another
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves” (Rom 12:10).
Without a basic trust there can be no fellowship. The depth of fellowship will vary according to the depth of commitment.
2. Our Commitment must Be Based on ‘Agape’
Agape is one-way love, which loves in spite of, not because of. Such a commitment therefore will not be affected by the other person’s inconsistent behaviour.
“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John `13:34).
3. True Fellowship Is Christ-Centered
Our fellowship with one another is founded in our common commitment to Christ.
“…And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1:3). See also Philippians 2:1-2.
4. Walking In the Light
Our fellowship embraces the need to be open, honest and truthful with one another. This at times may mean:
a. Confessing Our Own Sins To Others. “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin” (1Jn1: 6-7). See also Matthew 18:15.
b. Obedience To The Light – general and specific commandments God has given.
c. The Removal of any Masks or False Coverings. So much the word’s fellowship is hypocritical – acting out a role, and is not genuine. See 1Peter 1:22.
5. A Genuine Interest In The Other’s Well-Being
There should be no hidden motives of self-gain. Our desire should be to give, not to get. See Philippians 2:3-4.
6. A Willingness to Lay Down One’s Life (John 15:12-13).
Life involves more than physical life. It also includes our material possessions, our personal interest and preferences, etc. (James 2:15-16). This also means a willingness to openly share of one’s self. We can only know people to the extent they are prepared to reveal themselves.
C. Fellowship In The Church Means…
1. Sharing All Things
There were three stages of development in their fellowship in Acts 4:32 – firstly, they were of one heart (spirit), then they were of one soul (mind), and then followed the physical expression of having things in common. (See Acts 2:44-45)
2. Laying Down Their Loves (Rom 16:3-4).
3. Devoted To Serving The Brethren (1Cor 16:15).
4. Being A Channel Of Supply To Others In Need (2Cor 8:14, 1Cor 16:17).
5. Sharing In Suffering (Phil 4:14).
6. Sacrificial Giving (2Cor 8:2-3)
7. Practicing Hospitality (3Jn5, Heb 13:2).
8. Building Up And Encouraging One Another (1Ths 2:8, 2Tim 3:10-14.
D. Results Of Fellowship
The results of fellowship in the early Church were: a fear of God (Acts 2:43; joy (Acts 2:46; favour with all people (Acts 2:47; addition of new believers (Acts 2:47) ; all needs supplied (Phil 4:19); emergence of leadership (1Cor 16:15-16).
Through this study I now understand the importance of having fellowship continually with other Christians. Today I commit myself to being a part of a group of believers to whom I will give my loyalty, my love and my service.