“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
Fellowship (Koinonia) was a distinctive characteristic of the early Christian church. Not only was it routinely practiced, they were devoted to it; they made fellowship a priority. Even though the Christian life should not be lived in isolation, the dilemma of many new converts is that finding a comfortable place of worship where they feel as though they finally fit in, is clumsy and embarrassing. Pastors of our local Christian congregations would find this issue less difficult to overcome if they would practice it among themselves by meeting regularly for fellowship and prayer to celebrate their common beliefs.
As a new convert, C.S. Lewis experienced this feeling of awkwardness: he wrote that the idea of being a church member was “wholly unattractive.” He continued: “Though I liked clergymen as I liked bears, I had as little wish to be in the church as in the zoo. It was, to begin with, a kind of collective; a wearisome ‘get-together’ affair…”
To resolve the awkward experiences of new converts AND improve the “get-together affair” of current members, we must have a grasp of the meaning of the doctrine of fellowship and its implications and demands on our lives.
Fellowship is first of all, a “relationship,”not an activity. Any activity which occurs in a Christian community is born from a common relationship which we share with each other in Jesus Christ. True fellowship can never be experienced in the secular society with non-Christians. That idea was foreign to the apostles in the New Testament.
Fellowship does not happen because we (1) work for the same company, (2) live in the same neighborhood, (3) have kids who attend the same school, or (4) we were born with skin the same color. While these kinds of things may be reason for friendships in a secular society, they are divisive in the Community of believers when they become a prerequisite to inclusiveness. Fellowship is the outcome of our relationship with Jesus. “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” I John 1:3
Therefore, Beloved, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” I John 1:7
GospeLines Prayer: Father, continue to impress upon my heart the difference between friendship and fellowship; remind me that fellowship is eternal, and friendship, while gratifying, will leave me hungering and thirsting for more. Thank you for showing me in your Word that You are the root of real relationships. Amen and Amen!