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Fellowship with Other Believers June 28, 2008

Posted by flashbuzzer in Christianity.
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This is the third post in a four-part series that I titled “Towards a Complete Christian Life.” The point of this post is to highlight the importance of having meaningful fellowship with other Christians.

To get an idea of what meaningful fellowship with other believers entails, let’s look at four passages that focus on different aspects of Christian fellowship.

Let’s begin by reading Acts 2:42-47. This passage provides some valuable insights on the early Christian church. A quick glance through these six verses shows that a) each believer put others before themselves and b) God was definitely at work in the early church.

From verse 42, it is evident that meaningful Christian fellowship arises from personal devotion to it. With the invaluable assistance of the Holy Spirit, we must desire genuine Christian fellowship in order to truly experience its attendant blessings.

Verses 43a and 47a show that meaningful Christian fellowship can impact the lives of others, including both believers and non-believers. This point is nicely stated in Matthew Henry’s commentary on Acts 2:

Undissembled piety and charity will command respect; and cheerfulness in serving God will recommend religion to those that are without.

The familiar hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our love,” also nicely captures the broader impact of meaningful Christian fellowship; it’s important to remember that the world is always watching us.

Verse 47b continues the theme from verses 43a and 47a. Specifically, note how God moved people to be saved on a daily basis. It can be inferred that God, working through the meaningful Christian fellowship displayed in this passage, impressed upon non-believers a genuine desire to be a part of this fellowship. The end-product of meaningful Christian fellowship should be the literal transformation of both believers’ and non-believers’ lives.

Question 1: have you been in a ministry where you felt the joy of meaningful Christian fellowship?

Next, let’s take a gander at Hebrews 10:23-25. This happens to be one of my favorite Bible passages and illustrates the importance of mutual encouragement.

In verse 23, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that as Christians, we are all striving towards a common objective. Specifically, we hope for our promised ultimate sanctification and the blessings of eternal life in the constant presence of God. The second part of this verse reminds us that since God is faithful in terms of keeping His promises, we must remain faithful to Him in our Christian walk.

Verse 24 reminds us that we cannot strive towards the common objective from verse 23 in isolation. This point is reinforced in Matthew Henry’s commentary on Hebrews 10:

A good example given to others is the best and most effectual provocation to love and good works.

We are called to inspire our Christian brothers and sisters to live out our common hope. In another sense, verse 24 reminds us that by showing love toward God and others, and by doing good deeds, we are effectively living out our common hope.

The theme of mutual striving towards our common hope permeates verse 25. We can think of this verse as calling us to have “godly jealousy” for each other. We must desire the best for our Christian brothers and sisters, and these emotions must be demonstrated by mutual preparation for trials during these “last days.” Also, we must prepare each other to be able to give a good account of our lives to God when we stand before His judgment seat.

Question 2: have any Christian brothers or sisters encouraged you?

Now let’s read through Galatians 2:11-16. This passage illustrates the importance of accountability.

From verse 13, we see that Christian accountability in an unfortunate situation is crucial, especially when other Christians are affected. The familiar saying “no man is an island” rings true in this case; the actions of any Christian will always affect the lives of other Christians. We will elaborate on this theme of interconnectedness at the end of this post.

Note from verses 11 and 14 that Paul was unafraid of challenging Peter, even though Peter commanded significant respect in the early church. Verse 11 states that Paul took such a bold action because Peter “was clearly in the wrong.” It can be concluded that as Christians, we must take decisive action to correct our Christian brothers and sisters if we see them acting in an un-Christian manner.

The salient word “afraid” in verse 12 describes Peter’s wrongdoing in this passage. This verse indicates that Peter was more concerned about his standing in the eyes of fellow Jews who had been saved (“the circumcision group”) than about his standing in the eyes of God. In some sense, we can also view this verse as an opportunity for personal accountability; are we putting God first in our lives, or are we putting ourselves/others first?

Question 3: have you ever had to hold a fellow Christian accountable?

Finally, let’s read through 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. This is the famous “body of Christ” passage and illustrates the importance of being in a church body.

Instead of picking through some of the key verses in this passage, let’s conclude with some general observations. First, being in a church body allows you to interact with people who may be quite different from you. This can try your patience in many ways, but it is important to remember that patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit; thus, interacting with Christians who may be quite different from you can be helpful in your Christian walk.

Second, being in a church body allows you to learn from other Christians. The overriding theme of this passage is that everybody in the body of Christ can help build up the body. One common temptation in the Christian life (which I can personally attest to) is to think that you don’t need the help of other Christians to live righteously. In fact, other Christians can help you assess your Christian walk from different perspectives, which is invaluable for finding stumbling blocks and other hindrances that you need to remove.

Third, being in a church body is important since God has a purpose for you in the body of Christ. As is evident from this passage, each of us has a particular gift that we can use to glorify God. By serving Him in the context of the body, we build it up and help it to become more Christ-like (becoming more Christ-like ourselves in the process).

To recap, meaningful fellowship with other believers is a multi-faceted endeavor. We must consider the effects of our thoughts and actions on those around us. Also, we must strive to build up our Christian brothers and sisters while correcting them if they are “in the wrong.” Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), meaningful Christian fellowship glorifies God while building up the body of Christ.

My last post on this topic will focus on the challenges and benefits of serving God.

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