…so then there’s the topic of the fellowship of believers. This is the fellowship all believers have access to with one another in Christ Jesus. My pastor advises though; this should never be confused with the socializing of church members.
To phrase it in another way, the question is whether true biblical fellowship takes place when two or more believers gather (even online)… or, would what occurs be better described as socializing? Another definitive question might be asked, “What are the normal topics of discussion that take place between fellow believers?” By the way, this isn’t an attack against socializing. It too has its rightful place. The fellowship of believers however, transcends trivial socializing.
In our conversations, are we excited to share all that God is doing in our lives? Are we equally excited about what God is doing in the lives of others? Do we express the burdens we bear, and hear the burdens of others? Is our fellowship focused on Jesus?
Or… are our discussions consumed by our favorite team’s latest victory or loss. Is the content of our conversations primarily filled with our latest purchase, hunting or fishing trip, a recent movie or television program, a great restaurant or meal, the economy, or how things are going within our nation’s governments?
My good friend Matt, now serving in Senegal, shared something with us once that really impacted my view on this. In the village where he and his family serve, there were originally (on his arrival) six believers in Jesus Christ. SIX! Can you imagine having only five other Christians available for fellowship? (Hey! Watch it. I heard that, and so did our Heavenly Father)
First and foremost, it means fellowship must be undivided. If one member becomes upset with another, there’s not another church up the street to run to. There’s one church. They must also keep one another lifted up and encouraged. They can’t afford for one to fall by the wayside. They have to demonstrate Jesus’ love consistently for one another. (Acts 2:42)
So, how about us? What if we treated everyone as if they were our only source of Christian fellowship? Do we appreciate every believer (be honest) God has made available to us? Do we experience true fellowship with them, where Jesus is praised and worshiped and is the central topic of conversation? If not, why? Do we feel that other believers would be bored with hearing about what Jesus did for us and what He’s currently doing? [shivers run up my spine as I write and then read that sentence]
My pastor encouraged us with some ice-breaking questions that open the door for meaningful fellowship between believers. Here are a couple of them that struck me as challenging.
“What have you seen God do recently?”
“Where is God at work in your life?”
“How is your ministry going?”
“What spiritual challenges have you faced this week?”
“How can I help and pray for you?”
My Pastor concludes, “The bottom line is… Christian socializing is not enough. We are spiritual people who need spiritual things, including the fellowship that only the believers in Jesus Christ can experience and share. To avoid this, by whatever means, is sinful (Hebrews 10:24, 25).”