Community: Truth in Love

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42–47 ESV)

Fellowship

Let’s define Christian fellowship. Here are some good definitions:

“Christ-centered mutual affection and action [which] includes everything from joining in worship to conversations, meals, working together in all the activities of the Christian community.”[1]

“New Testament fellowship involves the sharing of the Christian life with other followers of Christ. Talking about the things of God with each other, telling and hearing testimonies of the work of the Spirit of God in our lives, serving the Lord and His people together, worshiping God and praying as one people, extending to and receiving from one another the love of Christ—these are the fibers of the fabric of fellowship.”[2]

“Sharing in word or action what we share in Christ.” (Steve DeWitt)

True Christian fellowship is spiritual. We have so muddied fellowship to include chitchatting after a service about the Bears game. Was that fellowship? With some people, any gathering of Christians and doughnuts is instantly called fellowship. Is there anything wrong with those things? Maybe the doughnuts, but no. But don’t think it’s fellowship. If it’s something you can do with an unbeliever, then it’s not fellowship. Why?

“Indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ…. 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 cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:3, 7)

Our fellowship with one another is created by our mutual fellowship with God. When I become a Christian, I enter into a spiritual fellowship with God and because I am in fellowship with God, I am also in fellowship with everyone else who is in fellowship with God.

My father-in-law was a Major League Baseball player. He played from 1973-1977 for the Minnesota Twins. Before the 1978 season, he signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals. He entered into a relationship with that organization. The moment he signed, not only was he in relationship with the owners, by virtue of that relationship, he instantly was also in relationship with everyone else who had signed on with the Royals. Their mutual fellowship with the owners meant they were in mutual relationship with one another. It’s called a team.

People in a church are a team. Not first because we are committed to one another, but because we are mutually committed to God. That’s true Christian fellowship. It begins vertically with God. Churches that try to unite their membership around politics or a social cause or even a ministry won’t last long. But when we see these relationships as vital because of the shared eternal relationship with God through Jesus, it creates a durability because issues come and go, viruses come and go, politicians come and go, pastors come and go, but God isn’t going anywhere and our commitment to each other must be based on our common commitment to God and his gospel.

“Fellowship is a sharing with our fellow-believers the things that God has 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.”[3] 

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] Gordon Keddie, Acts: You are My Witnesses, Welwyn Commentary Series, (Wyoming, Michigan: JPL Books, 1993), page unknown.

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1996), page unknown.

[3] J.I. Packer as quoted by C.J. Mahaney, Why Small Groups? Together Toward Maturity (Louisville, Kentucky: Sovereign Grace Ministries, 1996) 20.

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