The Spiritual Discipline of Fellowship (1-30-21)
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”, we meet two friends, Sam and Frodo, on a great quest. After journeying for some time, Sam turns and asks Frodo, “I wonder, what sort of tale we have fallen into?” Sam assumes there is a story, there is something larger going on, and all their experiences might be adding up to something more than first thought. Have you ever wondered what sort of story you have “fallen into”?
It’s not hard to see that life is a story. It doesn’t come at us like a math problem. It comes at us scene by scene. Life unfolds more like a drama, as each day has a beginning and end. There are all sorts of characters and all sorts of settings. Sometimes it feels like a tragedy, sometimes like a comedy, and most of the time, like a drama or soap opera. Just think about the way we do life.
When we get news that a friend was in a car accident we first ask, “Are they ok?” But as quickly as we can get to it, we want to know the story. We ask, “What happened?” In other words, “Tell me the story!”
If life is a story, what is the plot? Who is telling the story?
Many stories begin with the popular phrase, “Once upon a time …”
Have you ever wondered why so many tales begin with that phrase? Well, it’s because that’s the way the story of our very existence begins! “In the beginning …” Doesn’t that remind you of “Once upon a time …”?
The Bible uses this language twice. The most popular one is in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
But we can’t start there if we want to understand THE Story. Genesis reveals accounts that are far into The Story! Genesis is the beginning of the story of this life: the events here on Earth!
To get to the Big Story, the “Once upon an eternity,” we have to go to the Gospel of John, chapter 1:
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
What John is doing here is reaching back and giving us a glimpse of the time before all time. He is describing a divine fellowship, an intimacy—the perfect, complete, all-powerful existence of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the eternal life of GOD!
Picture it: God has always existed and enjoyed the perfect harmony and relationship of the Trinity. Out of this amazing relationship, we are created.
John is telling us that our origins are relational. What it means to be human, at its core, is to be relational. Aren’t most of your best memories ones that involve others? Aren’t your biggest tragedies also ones that involve others?
We are relational at our core, because we are made in the echo of the intimacy of the Trinity. Genesis says, “Let us make man in OUR image …” One of the deepest of all human longings is the longing to be chosen, to be invited into relationship!
It is in deep, meaningful relationship that our Creator has designed us to experience and share His attribute of love. The Bible says, “God is love.”
Jesus Himself proved relationship is everything in this life when He proclaimed what we now call “The Great Commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-40 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
It is in relationship that we are to selflessly love. It is in relationship that we are designed to do life, share our deepest hurts, and cheer our greatest victories.
The spiritual discipline of fellowship is one of the most core practices with which God has blessed us. The question is: do you truly practice fellowship? Do you make time to spend quality time with brothers and sisters in the Lord?
What we have to see is we are saved into an everlasting fellowship in Christ and His body. But it wasn’t always that way. At the Fall, Adam and Eve experienced one of the most damaging consequences of their sin:
Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
The first thing that sin did was divide them. They covered themselves and hid themselves. What was unashamed, honest, united, and loving became judgmental, divisive, solo, and selfish.
In our sin, we don’t like many people; some don’t like any people. Why? Because they bother us, because we judge them; they hurt us if we let them close, and we don’t like their upsetting our flow. These are the selfish realities of our sin.
But the good news is God changes that in us in salvation, and then He helps us mature in it in sanctification.
When God saves us, He adopts us from our separated, orphaned state. He makes us part of His eternal family.
Ephesians 1:5 means His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:19 means you are members of God’s very own family and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian. Romans 12:5 means in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
These are glorious realities of the fellowship we now have in Christ. He is restoring what broke apart at the fall of mankind. He is restoring our fellowship just like the Trinity has always enjoyed from eternity past.
It is our sin that causes us to separate and pull away from others, to be judgmental and to be self-conscious.
Isolating ourselves is not healthy spiritually, mentally, or physically, and it is certainly not the way to thrive in our Christian life.
Luke 8:21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
Your connection to the body of Christ is eternally more important than your connection to your own family! Why? Your physical family can be broken and lost! God’s family is guaranteed forever.
Does this mean we are not to love and give high priority to our family? No, God gave them to you and you to them for special reasons, but hear what Jesus is saying: you are designed for, and should value highly, your part in God’s family!
Proverbs 27:17 (GNB) People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.
Galatians 6:2 (TLB) Share each other’s troubles and problems …
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
He died for us so that we may live together with Him.
Hebrews 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
When we live and grow together as a family, we are committed to one another. We want to fellowship with each other often. It is not an, “If I get to it,” but instead it is a, “This is my priority.”
So, how do we practice fellowship well? In Acts 2:41-47, we have a great picture of this happening.
Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
- They believed in the gospel. In other words, they were saved and adopted into His family.
- They were committed to a local church. They were baptized and added to the church.
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
- They were committed to weekly corporate worship. This gathering of the saints is truly a special thing that can be the highlight of our week.
Acts 2:44-46 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.
- They spent everyday life together, and they served together. They spent time eating, singing, and praying. This is fellowship. This is the body of Christ doing life in Christ together.
Acts 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- God blessed them and multiplied them with more saved family.
You were formed for God’s family! Let’s make it a true habit to be doing life together and practicing the one-anothers that God gives us in Scripture.
By His grace and for His glory,
-Joshua “Shepherd” Kirstine
Soldiers For Jesus MC