We continue in this series of posts about the Gospel Culture values we pursue together at Living Hope Church by looking at the value of “fellowship.”
We must come to Christ alone as we personally repent of our sins and trust in the substitutionary, wrath-bearing death of the risen Christ of Calvary but we don’t continue alone. We are united to Jesus Christ by faith and are incorporated into a whole new community — the body of Christ; the church. The Bible doesn’t have a category for solo-Christianity! We are called into fellowship with other Christians; more specifically into fellowship with other Christians in the context of the local church.
But what is fellowship exactly? Is it simply hanging out? Sharing a meal? Watching the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles in all their resplendent glory together? Let’s look at a definition of fellowship and then some practical ways that we can pursue fellowship.
John Loftness provides a helpful definition for Christian fellowship in his contribution to the book Why Small Groups?:
“Fellowship is sharing something in common on the deepest possible level of human relationship—our experience of God himself.”
Christian fellowship, rooted in the Gospel and in our union with Christ and each other, is sharing “our experience of God himself” —now that is extraordinary! Fellowship is far more than hanging out or talking about sports and movies, fellowship is sharing with each other what God is doing in and through our lives and having the privilege to encourage and build up each other through the Word and prayer. It is a sacred and weighty reality that is not to be taken lightly or neglected. We need each other to run the race set before us. We need each other’s spiritual gifts. We need others to gently bring observations into our blind spots. We need…fellowship!
Acts 2:42-27 is an extraordinary narrative of what healthy fellowship looks like. Earlier in the chapter, the day of Pentecost has arrived — the Holy Spirit has been poured out, Peter preached the gospel, and 3,000 people are saved. What a day! What do we find this group of new Christian believers doing after their conversion? They fall into community together and begin to fellowship. They devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching (what we now have as the New Testament) together, they are praying together and eating together, they are caring for one another’s physical needs. And lest we think this was an isolated bunch we read that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b)
it is a beautiful picture of what God produces in the lives of his people as he wakes us up to the grace of God by the Spirit and brings us into the fellowship of the church.
At Living Hope, we aim to emulate the early believers in our relationships with one another. One primary way we pursue this lifestyle is in our Community Groups. In Community Groups, we eat together, we pray together, we apply the Bible’s teaching, we encourage one another in the Christian life, and we support each other in our efforts to see the folks around us come to Christ. Sound familiar? Yeah, this wasn’t my bright idea. This is simply our effort to pursue biblical, gospel community in which the fruit of fellowship flourishes.
God Wants You!
I imagine most of us have seen the old WW1 poster of Uncle Sam in with his finger extended declaring “I Want You.” Well, infinitely greater than the invitation to join the U.S. Army is the call that God extends for us to enter into fellowship. God is calling you into fellowship in the context of the local church because he has designed that we need others in the Christian life and others need us. He calls us to get off the sidelines and get involved, to use the gifts he has given us to serve others, and to humble ourselves by recognizing that we need gifts that others have. So, don’t stop praying together, don’t stop eating together, don’t stop encouraging one another from the Scriptures. In other words — don’t stop fellowshipping!