The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines fellowship as a “community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience.” My response to that definition is, “meh”. Biblically, Christian fellowship is about community with others who share our belief in Jesus Christ and the experiences that stem from that belief. But, that definition does little to express the depth of the biblical sense of Christian fellowship.
1 John 1:3 states, “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” (ESV). Our ability to be in fellowship with other Christians stems from our fellowship with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Because of the Spirits indwelling in us, this fellowship is experienced as a deep “personal communion” (ESV Study Bible). Dictionary.com provides a great definition of communion that supports this idea of personal connection with our Creator and Savior, “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.”
Later in 1 John 1:7, it says, “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” (ESV). Our ability to “walk in the light” stems directly from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and our communion or fellowship with the Father and his Son. As we “walk in the light” we draw closer to those who share in our faith and experience communion with them as well.
Of course, as with all things, as we live out our faith in fellowship with other believers, we much recognize that we still walk as foreigners in a foreign land and sin still lays claim to our actions sometimes. You will not find sinless, perfect people when you enter into fellowship with other Christians. In some cases, it may be even harder to look past people’s sins and errors–They should “know” better! In these cases, truth and grace reign supreme. With truth, we correct any wrong or error and with grace, we forgive and heal wounds, just as Jesus modeled to us.
To keep our faith on fire, the flames need to be stoked through connection, first with the Father and the Son, and second with fellow believers. By being in communion with the Father and Son, our hearts and minds are renewed and cleansed so that we may meet fellow believers walking in the light, shored up by humility and love.
Fellowship can take many forms–church attendance, Bible study, breaking bread together, serving each other. We would love to hear how you engage in Christian fellowship with other believers. Please share in the comments below.
Contributed by Liz Hunt