Take “fellowship” for example. Quick – without thinking – what comes to mind?
For me, “fellowship” is a casual social time among Christians that includes coffee and donuts where conversations go like this:
“How are you doing?”
“How about you?”
“I’m good, too.”
Biblically-speaking, though, the original words for “fellowship” involve at least two things:
- relationship – God first puts us into a relationship with Him through Christ, and that creates a relationship between us and other believers. 1 John 1:3 gives the idea: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
- partnership – Relationships are a critical starting point, but God wants more than that. He wants to accomplish something through the relationship. 1 Corinthians 8:23 provides a good example: “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit.” Paul and Titus were friends, but for a purpose: a partnership for the Corinthians’ “benefit.” Specifically, Titus was continuing the gospel ministry Paul had started.
Both these elements are important to true fellowship, but in my experience we tend to stop at the level of relationships. We have bible studies, pray and offer coffee and donuts (relationship with God and each other), but we fail to look outward and ask God what He wants to accomplish through us. With our neighbors. With our classmates. With our colleagues at the hospital. And honestly, we’re bored.
All of us struggle here, but the truth is, fellowship is part of who we are. If we look at the very beginning (see Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-3), it’s clear that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were all there, and existed before anything else. The One God – in Three Persons – formed the original “relationship.” But He didn’t stop there – He created our world. Out of that original relationship came the original partnership, or, mission. That pattern was passed along on to us, as God formed the first human relationship (Adam and Eve) and partnership (“fill and subdue” the earth).
So, the point is that “fellowship”, in the biblical sense, is not an option, but a command and blessing. There needs to be both strong relationships and a compelling mission that drives you outward as a team. It’s hard and costly, but it makes us truly human. As you look at the fellowship(s) you’re a part of, do you see both of these elements?
Is your fellowship a fellowship?