<<association, friendship>>

We are made in God’s image, so as social creatures, we are not designed to continually be alone, but rather interacting with others. God wants close association with us, His ultimate creation, as shown in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8).  God didn’t wipe His hands of man and remain aloof in Heaven after man sinned but outworked through Jesus the means of salvation whereby we could come back close to Him – having fellowship with the Father and Son by the Holy Spirit dwelling within, and then being together for all eternity (1 Jn 1:3; Rev 21:3).

To enable fellowship with God, sin which hinders that relationship must be put aside; being open and honest with others is essential to walk in true fellowship (1 Jn 1:6,7).  Fellowship involves being together, sharing what we have, and our very selves too. It is developed through love, concern, encouragement, challenging and confronting in the secure environment of trust and accountability. In healthy friendships, we are mentally stimulated and positive change will take place through being outwardly focused as the motivation is to bless and enrich the other person, which often includes forgiveness. Satan is out to destroy such relationships through busyness, rejection, tension, wrong attitudes, taking offence, self-seeking, masks, gossip, accentuating differences of values and opinions. We need to keep up contact with our friends or we will drift apart, as no fellowship takes place in isolation.

Fellowship is a sharing together in a common life and experience; our experiences are not unique to us; others have, are or will go through similar incidents and as appropriate, we can comfort and support them while also

Fellowship to be built up and build others up

receiving from them (1 Cor 10:13; 2 Cor 1:3,4). Fellowship includes: recognising each other’s worth and equality as in God’s sight we all are equal, no one is inferior or superior and we all share equally in the transforming power of His love (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11); being sensitive to others needs and desires, and by being other-focused we can become ‘whole’ people (Rom 12:15,16; 1 Cor 12:25,26; Heb 13:3); respecting the worth of another and submitting in an attitude of humility, motivated by the fear of God (1 Cor 12:21); giving and receiving based on ability and need, “Doing to others as we would they do to us”, not just material possessions but also encouragement, ministry, counsel and practical help (Lk 6:31); a unity of heart and mind as people pull together in the same direction (Eph 4:3; Phil 1:5,27); a genuine concern and care for one another, treating them as we would treat Christ in a tangible and practical way by "going and doing" (Mt 25:40; Lk 10:27-37).

Fellowship, both with the saved and unsaved, is having a supportive relationship that involves some or several of these areas: material, physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Through ministering to each other’s needs, and carrying their burdens we are fulfilling the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).  This involves commitment, openness and vulnerability to be like Christ, “Who for our sake became poor that we might be rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

Love for Jesus, which translates into love for others, is to be the motivation.  Jesus said, “Love
each other as I have loved you”; love is to be the distinguishing feature of our fellowship and relationship with each other (Jn 13:35, 15:12).  For us to

effectively relate to others we need to be in harmony, having something in common (Amos 3:3). As united we stand, but divided we fall, look for and major on what we are agreed on, not the few areas where there is a difference of opinion (Mt 12:25). To have 'heart' fellowship with other believers there needs to be agreement on the core non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith, with the Bible clearly stating Christians are not to enter into close relations with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14, 13:11; Phil 4:2).

Our fellowship is with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1:9; 2 Cor 13:14). This can be seen as sharing vertically in the union each of us has in Christ, besides sharing together with other believers the common union we have with Christ and each other. This includes joining with others in the gospel

We are on the same journey

and uniting with Christ in His suffering (Phil 1:5, 2:1,2, 3:10; 1 Jn 1:3,7). By giving yourself away in a genuine Christ-like way, you will form strong praying, comforting, sharing and caring relationships with others. As the evil in the world increases continue to fellowship with other Christians so your faith will be built up (Heb 10:25). Taking communion (the Lord’s Supper) is having fellowship with Christ.

God is reaching out to humankind, waiting for us to ‘open the door’ to Him so relationship can commence – or be re-established (Rev 3:20). Likewise, we extend ‘the right-hand of fellowship’ as one of agreement and approval (Gal 2:9).

See also: accountability, alone, connection, forgiveness, friends/friendship, integrity, non-negotiable, offence, relationships.