Fellowship and Community

For where two or three have gathered together in My Name, I am there in their midst. ~Matthew 18:20

There is much said in the pages of scripture about the fellowship and community of believers. These are concepts and constructs that are not simply helpful to us as individuals as we continue on our own journeys toward the ultimate fellowship with God in Christ, but rather these are absolutely foundational and fundamental to that journey. God has called to Himself a people, a bride in the church universal (Revelation 21:9). We as individuals are part of that bride just as our heart or lungs are part of each of us (1 Corinthians 10:17), and just as a heart or lungs cannot survive outside of the body, neither can we survive spiritually outside of the body of Christ.  

This is a very difficult concept for me personally as even the very idea of participating in social situations makes me uncomfortable. I would much rather stay cooped up inside my house, with the doors shut, safely away and protected from any potentially awkward and painful social interaction. Yet it is not my personal comfort that God calls me to pursue. We are each called to pursue Him, and a foundational part of pursuing Him means actively engaging and participating in the fellowship and community of believers.

Whereas I struggle not to fall into the pit isolation, there is an equally dangerous ditch on the other side of the road that requires caution as well. There are many who thrive on social interaction, and indeed require it to maintain their sanity, but simple social interaction and even friendship is not enough. We must be careful to remember that it is not casual or idle friendship that we are called to, but focused, purposeful, and deeply meaningful relationship built on love. The heart is not placed inside the chest to simply enjoy the company of the lungs, but rather to both provide the lungs with nourishment and to work in harmony with the lungs to nourish the rest of the body.   

While BBQs, play dates, and even men's and women's retreats are good things that build relationships, they, by themselves, are not sufficient. True fellowship requires a level of accountability (Titus 2:15). Accountability can only be granted where there is trust. Trust only comes through practiced and continuous relationship through all life's seasons and storms. It is important to remember that it is not the simple act of fellowship that we are called to engage in as if it were something we could just do to check off our list. We are commanded to love one another even as Christ loved us (John 13:34) and we are told that whatever we do, no matter how great an act it might be, if it is done without love then it is without worth (1 Corinthians13:1-3).     

Take a moment to evaluate your interactions with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Are you engaged with your community or are you disconnected? Are you loving and nourishing others or are you simply feeding yourself? Where is God calling you to focus your attention today? How and who is He calling you to love?

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ~Acts 2:42

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