Title: FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST THAT FEEDS
“Church gatherings” where there is no life (fellowship in the Spirit) just doesn’t cut it…it leaves us empty. But on the other hand, gatherings where there is sweet fellowship resonates within us so deeply that we hate to say goodbye. You feel drug to the former…but drawn to the latter.
All of us have experienced both kinds of gatherings. I don’t know about you, the empty gatherings drain me, and so I find myself avoiding them except for the times duty calls me there. But I look forward to the gatherings where the fellowship with others has the element of freedom in Christ where real ministry takes place.
Christian fellowship is made possible by God’s grace that drew us in a love relationship with Him. Through Christ we are liberated from our ugly past and are born again in His image. As others are drawn in the Spirit through the Son to the Father, a relationship develops, and the result is communion in the Spirit. This relatedness, relationship, and communion is fellowship.
After doing a quick search in the Bible about fellowship, I discovered there’s more to it than I first thought. It is my hope that in seeing these elements you will apply them in other circles so that the life-giving fellowship in the Spirit can spread to others. Let’s take a look at them.
Agree – sumphoneo = to be harmonious.
1. What is the sad result of a lack of fellowship and agreement as revealed in Acts 28:23-31?
Insight: When we cannot agree together on the Word of God, we close our eyes to the truth and our ears become deaf to the leading of the Holy Spirit…and we end up walking out of fellowship and we miss the healing that could be ours had we stayed together in agreement. Sadly, there are too many closed doors of relationships in this matter. What is needed is a peacemaker that can keep us united in the fellowship of the Spirit.
2. List the many attitudes that keep “agreement” from taking place according to 1 Tim. 6:3-6. (Advocates a different gospel, conceited, understands nothing, controversial, disputes, envy, strive, abusive language, evil suspicions, constant friction, mind depraved of the truth, proposes godliness via works.)
Fellowship – koinonia = partnership, communion. This word originates in the relationship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have with one another.
1. What does David say is an ingredient of “sweet fellowship” according to Ps. 55:14? (Walking together in the house of God.) But a closer look at the context of this chapter reveals that David has been under heavy attach (reproach), but it wasn’t from his enemies nor those that hate him…it was from his close friend and companion. What happens to our fellowship when a brother or sister in Christ reproaches us outside of the Spirit? What’s the difference between a reproach and a rebuke?
Insight: A reproach is done in the flesh and wounds others because it is an attack; a rebuke is a warning in the Spirit of a wrong direction and it results in repentance and restoration.
2. What elements of fellowship are revealed in 1 Cor. 1:9-13? (Jesus calls us into fellowship; divisions among us are a sure sign Christ is no longer at the center of our fellowship.)
3. There is an interesting coupling of three elements in 2 Cor. 13:14 that make a good recipe for sweet fellowship. What are they? (Grace, love, fellowship in the Spirit.)
4. Phil. 2:1-2 shows some more elements of true fellowship. What are they? (Encouragement in Christ, consolation with love, affection and compassion, united in the spirit toward the same purpose. Our fellowship with one another leads to a mutual responsibility of love.)
Insight: Each one of these depends upon someone in the gathering to be a “giver” of these elements. If we all come to the gathering expecting to receive it, but no one is giving it, fellowship won’t take place. If you want sweet fellowship, enter with a giving spirit with the above gifts in your basket.
5. In Phil. 3:8-11 Paul counts everything he had ever gained as rubbish in comparison to knowing Jesus, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. What do you think Paul means by “fellowship of His sufferings” that he would consider them so highly?
Insight: When we take on the name of Christ and live for Him, we will receive what the world did to Him. When your fellowship is close with someone of a kindred spirit, their sufferings become your sufferings…you have walked through them together…in fact you couldn’t have made it through it without them. Those that stick to your side through a season of suffering are friends indeed! 2 Cor. 1:5-7
6. What makes Christian fellowship different from worldly fellowship, according to Philemon 1:4-6? (The fellowship of your faith in Christ.)
7. Fellowship is so much more than a church pot-luck dinner; sometimes fellowship doesn’t even occur at those gatherings. It could…but it takes an intentional focus. What does 1 Jn. 2:4-6 say is essential in order to have fellowship in the Spirit? (Walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.)
8. What elements of fellowship are revealed in 1 Jn. 1:1-7? (Experiential knowledge of Christ – what we can personally testify of Him through our own experiences, and walking in the light.)
When there is fellowship in the Spirit, bonds that last a lifetime are developed. And like a chord of three strands that is tightly woven together, it cannot be broken. It’s because healing took place in those gatherings in the Spirit…encouragement was liberal…grace was applied when one stumbled…a Word from the Lord was given…and love was lavished upon the one that was unlovely. The Holy Spirit is at the center of the fellowship and it is in Him that we live, move and have our being.
The need for true fellowship is so critical that without it, some struggle in their spiritual walk, wavering in their faith. This passage shows us the importance of fellowship in the Spirit that feeds. Heb. 10:23-25
When it’s all said and done…when our fellowship on earth has been rich and we have encouraged one another in the Spirit and fellowshipped together with their sufferings…there is one final crown of fellowship that will be granted us. 2 Pet. 1:2-4 (partakers = koinonos – we will have fellowship with God’s divine nature!!!)
Hungry for it? Need it? Then give it…and it will be given to you…shaken, pressed down and running over into your lap. Some are takers, and like sponges, soak it all up. Once we were like them, but someone lavished the love of God and fellowship in the Spirit upon us and we became what we are today. To lift one from the pit means someone must enter it to help them out. And through fellowship in their sufferings, we will develop a bond that radiates the fragrant perfume of the fellowship of the Spirit that is winsome to others.
Others need the circle of fellowship in the Spirit. Embrace them.