Questions to consider:
Who is our neighbor?
What does fellowship look like?
Why should we have fellowship?
What is the body of Christ/the Church?
What can we learn from Jesus about fellowship?
Fellowship is one of the most important things in our lives. After all, what are we but the relationships we have with the Lord and the relationships we have with each other? The Bible has a decent amount to say about how we treat our brothers/neighbors. I would advise you to read Luke 10:25-37 and maybe my “Loving our Enemies” post if you want to learn more about who our neighbor is, but essentially our neighbor is anybody, from our best friend to our worst enemy.
Fellowship in the Church is a beautiful thing. But first, what is the Church? In my opinion, the Church is not a certain denomination, but rather the collection of believers that believes in Christ as their savior. Not every denomination has it all right necessarily, but I think that God views the church as being larger than those to have it all figured out. And fellowship starts when we have two or more gathered.
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20 ESV)
God wants us to gather and not just be hermits in our own worlds. There is so much power in something like a men’s or women’s group when Jesus is at the center of it. Even getting Chick-Fil-A with a church buddy, Jesus can be there! Pretty cool stuff.
We, as brothers and sisters, make up the body of Christ, which is synonymous with “the Church” in the sense that it is the collection of believers.
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5 ESV)
What’s really cool about the whole body of Christ deal is that it also makes us the bride of Christ, as talked about in scripture as well. It makes the collection of believers like one person that at the end of this age will be presented to Jesus. However, as in the passage above, we as members of the body of Christ have different functions, just like a body of a human being.
18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:18-20 ESV)
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV)
We are meant to have different gifts to build up the body of Christ and we are meant to build up each other.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)
We are to encourage one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24) and make sure our brothers do not continue slipping down sinful paths.
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)
It might not always be easy to sharpen each other, but it is important. Sometimes, I think loving our neighbor means pointing out sin instead of encouraging their lifestyle. That’s something I want to work on more, and it’s not going to be easy for everybody. It might not be easy for anyone at all. But calling out sin for what it is might make a huge difference in someone’s relationship with God.
We are even to be willing to die for our friends.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16 ESV)
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 ESV)
This is pretty tough for most of us I would imagine. Let us ask God for courage to be the brother/sister to others that he wants us to be. The love that God intends includes making sacrifices for our friends and even for our enemies. This, I think, is when God sees our real strength in our love for brothers and sisters.
Let us pray for our friends, that they may be a useful part of the body of Christ and that they may seek God and find his loving voice in their lives. Our prayers mean a lot, and I think I’ve seen this in my own men’s group.
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV)
The homies in Acts seemed to have it figured out.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[d] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 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)
Let’s thank God for friends.
7 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 1:7 ESV)
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