Ephesians 3:8-12 (NKJV)
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
Friendship. Relationship. Companionship. Fellowship. It is the interworking of people networking through life that incorporates our heart, mind and eventually our soul with others. Intimacy creates soul ties not easily broken yet ripped apart by division and discord. The Body of Christ is not exempt. I have been a member of churches that would eventually split and venture off in separate directions. How is that even possible when our only goal is Jesus? Does He veer off in different directions? Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) God does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) No one came come to the Father but by Jesus. (John 14:6) The Lord is quite clear concerning His Thoughts on division among believers. It is written in His Word, “Now I plead with you, Brethren (or believers, Body of Christ, Christians, disciples, followers of Jesus, whatever you have named your pursuit of God and His Kingdom) by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…” To be a Child of the Living God is to live in pursuit of fellowship with the Lord, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The impact for those who engage in this endeavor will develop, grow and blossom into a prospering fellowship among all believers.
Yet in this age of small groups, culture groups, traditional Sunday School and church gatherings, there continues to be discord and division in the family of the Living God. Rather than pursuing greater understanding of who the Lord is and what He desires of us, the church has taken on a whole new cause. In attempt to prove that their way is right, it has become locked in a mudslinging war amongst itself. God hates it. Jesus is broken hearted. The Holy Spirit is intent on changing it. Fellowship is important. Not the kind of friendships and acquaintances that the world engages in, but rather the type of relationships that we have been called to and equipped by His Love to participate in.
Psalm 63:1-3 (NKJV)
O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your Power and Your Glory. Because Your Lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.
The primary source of growth and development of true fellowship, the kind that the Lord desires for us to have, begins with Jesus Christ. A daily pursuit of His Love, Grace, Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom that gives us a desire for greater things in our life connections and relationships. The change in our heart produced by Jesus Christ begins to give us a new perspective on people and the role they play in our life. A firm foundation of faith wrapped up in confident hope allows us to love other without expectation from them. This makes grace flow through the inner workings to bind us to one another. We must have a thriving and earnest relationship with Jesus Christ to move into a place of constant companionship that will carry over into all our interaction with others in life. One cannot engage in godly fellowship without being likeminded. To accept Jesus as Savior and not make Him Lord places our life in a gray abyss. We no longer interact with the same people or do the same things because there is an immediate heart change, but unless He becomes Lord producing a life change, those same individuals are forces to move forward or drift back forsaking their new found freedom once again. When Jesus is our Savior and Lord, it changes our heart and life which gives us a desire to fellowship with those who believe as well.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV)
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
What is fellowship? It is friendly relationships. It is companionship. To be joined together by a common interest or cause. People come together many times on this basis. There is power in this kind of unity. 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us as believers to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. This does not mean to avoid such people, ignore them or in any way, shape or form abandon them. We are called to share the Gospel of God’s Love with every person who we come in contact with in word and deed. To be yoked means to join, couple, link or unite. It is like the harness used to join two animals together to share the same burden like oxen or horses. Their strength is increased in the pairing of the two. The Lord is telling us that such a connection with those who do not believe should be avoided. Why? There is not a common interest or cause therefore the two will oppose each other and the weaker will give in to the stronger animal. It is counterproductive as we fight a battle that is unnecessary and clearly to be avoided as it is stated in the Word of God. We love and seek to serve unbelievers to lead them to the Love of God. But we are never to “yoke” our life according to their purpose.
Our cause must always be Christ. When it becomes any other objective, opposition arises and churches quake splitting down the middle showing the world around us that we are not untied in cause or purpose without true revelation of God’s Love. We must come to an agreement. Christ above all agendas, schedules, personal tastes and preferences. This is what unites the Body of Christ. It is the very thing that will spark a fire of revival again.
Ephesians 5:8-12 (NKJV)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
I John 1:5-7 (NKJV)
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
True fellowship with Jesus is to avoid darkness completely and live in the Light of His Love with character and integrity each day taking one step closer to Jesus and moving farther away from the darkness of the past. To do so will cause a change in the relationships once had with other people. This is true of most positive change in life as well. If you were once an alcoholic, but now choose a clean and sober life. Your drinking buddies will one day stop calling because you have nothing in common anymore. Single friends will slowly drift away from married couples as their goals in life now differ. It is human nature for relationships to come and go. Jesus is constant. He never changes. As He becomes the premise of our life, our relationships will change. It is okay. Yes, He will heal the hurting heart when love leaves. But the real love that is found in Christ will fill every void left by wandering people and wavering hearts around us.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7 (NKJV)
Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.
The fellowship of ministering to the saints. The Churches of Macedonia were suffering great trial of affliction and poverty that they gave with great joy and abounded in freedom. They did not allow the challenges of their life impact their fellowship full engaged and completely generous in their absolute surrender to the ministry of the saints. What is that? I believe it is to never forsake the coming together of like-minded people in Jesus Christ. To fully participate in becoming like-minded and growing in the Grace of God together. It goes on to say as you abound in EVERYTHING – faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, love and grace. Understand that this life will not get any better, it will always hate Jesus. You and I cannot change how the world feels about the Kingdom of God but by continuing to put aside our opinions and personal agendas to pursue true fellowship and absolute unity. The commonality between us is not how we choose to worship but Who we worship with our whole heart and every fiber of our being. When yoked to other believers in a thriving relationship, a constant source of comfort, encouragement and unity become a cord that we use to bind ourselves to the Altar of God as we pursue Him together.
Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV)
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
As a teenager, our youth group had a weekly Bible study and fellowship. Each gathering included a devotion and prayer. In the modern church, small groups and culture groups gather in homes, restaurants, basketball courts, shopping malls, and just about any other place you can think of. They call it fellowship. Maybe. Is Jesus in it? See fellowship is formed by a common cause or interest. If that interest is anything other than Jesus and He is not glorified during our time together, we are pursuing a hobby or interest. The work begun in us by Jesus Christ relies on the constant molding and shaping of the Word of God, Holy Spirit and friends who are in our life to become the iron that sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) We must not become distracted by trying to find a common interest other Jesus Christ. But dwelling so deeply in Him, that any other interest or gathering that we embark on will bring Glory to His Name.
There has always been power in unity. The Tower of Babel is the perfect example. The people united in cause were able to do extraordinary things but apart from the Will of God their efforts would end in confusion as the Lord disrupted their communication. (Genesis 11:1-9) There are many towers that have risen in these dark times and some include the word “church” attached to them. Like-minded people forming a fellowship on a cause other than Christ with a convoluted message and disgrace of grace. They have not made Christ the foundation and one day, it will be evident in their fall. To preserve our fellowship as pure, holy and godly requires a constant connection to Christ with full examination of our heart going in. As we fellowship with others, it should be yoking those believers who pursue Christ wholeheartedly and blending our lives together in God’s Love. By doing so, God will bless every relationship born of our love for Jesus – body, mind and spirit. Jesus is our cause. Nothing else will do as it becomes a fiery passion for souls. This will grow into a strong desire and willingness to share the faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, love and grace discovered as we prosper in Jesus Christ together. Our souls will prosper. Life will get better in the Presence of God in fellowship with His People. It is in harmony with all believers that we solve the mystery of fellowship growing in God’s Love, Grace and Mercy together.
Psalm 133:1-2 (NKJV)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.