If you were to put together a “Top 10 List” of the most fundamental components of the human experience, what would go on it? What are those things that people at all times and in all cultures do, feel, or think about? It’s an interesting question. People are infinitely complex, yet strikingly simple all at the same time. We often are unable to identify our own patterns of behavior and deepest emotional needs even though they are so evident.
I’m not a sociologist or a statistician, but I’m fairly confident that “fellowship” would make the list. Fellowship is not a word that we use often outside of the Bible or The Lord of the Rings, so let me explain its meaning further. Fellowship simply means joint participation. It's when more than one person comes together and does something. Our families, our jobs, our hobbies, our athletic teams, our gym memberships, and our church attendance all involve joint participation with other people. In fact, you can hardly find any part of the human experience that doesn’t involve fellowship on some level. It is common and fundamental.
When we talk about Christian fellowship, what are we talking about? Oftentimes we use this terminology to describe our church services, Bible studies, or general hangouts. It can include those things, but the Bible teaches that Christian fellowship is so much more than that. Fellowship in the general sense is common. Christian fellowship is profound and intentional. Its meaning and purpose transcend everything else happening in our lives.
Christian fellowship is profound and intentional. Its meaning and purpose transcend everything else happening in our lives.
This is how the apostle John describes Christian fellowship in 1 John 1:
“What we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
John says they are declaring Christ with the hope that their hearers would join with them, meaning to have fellowship with them. Then he says that they have joined with God Himself and with His Son Jesus. The difference between every other type of joint participation in the human experience and Christian fellowship is that Christians are joining with the creator of the universe, God Himself, in relationship and in His work in the world.
This understanding of Christian fellowship brings things into focus in a striking way. Church and ministry activities go from being just another extra-curricular to being the children of God coming together to accomplish the work of God. This perspective should bring meaning, joy, and unity to our relationships and the things we’re engaged with as a church. It should drive a rearranging of our affections and priorities so that we see the church and the people of God, as one of our highest values and priorities in this life.
This fall as we begin The New Life Series, let this truth sink in. If you are in Christ, you have joined with God as His son or daughter, and He is calling you to take part in His rescue mission of the world.