The nature of Christian fellowship

It might surprise you to consider these biblical passages about the nature of Christian fellowship.

Christian fellowship is eternal and does not come to an end. What does this say about your relationships with other Christians, far less about your evangelizing zeal for the lost and perishing? If you don’t know about Christian fellowship, how will you be able to attract others into it? Do you?

  1. 1Pe 1:22-23 teaches us that the fellowship of the godly never comes to an end. It begins in this world, continues through this world, and into the eternal world. The reason for this is because it was created by the incorruptible Word of God so that the Christian love created in the godly is undying and endures forever.
  2. the apostle Paul spoke about it to the Philippians Php 1:3-11. Judas Iscariot broke off that fellowship and betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ. When Peter fell, Jesus restored Peter to fellowship, teaching all Christians how to behave towards each other. Paul taught it also Gal 6:1 and practised the same Christian spirit 2Cor 2:5-11.
  3. Paul challenged the Galatians about the nature and quality of their former profession of Christian fellowship and their former claim to have benefited from his preaching Gal 4:13-15. “Where then is the blessedness you spoke about?” Gal 4:15, now that they were turning their back on him as an enemy Gal 4:16 in favour of others Gal 4:17. What sort of appreciation was it that they had showed to Paul’s preaching? It was not Christian or it would have stood the test of time and carried on. Had their fellowship come to an end? What does this say about the Galatians and the quality of their fellowship? Was it Christian at all? Its temporary nature suggests otherwise. Was it simply birds of a feather flocking together? And what feathers were they? These worldly feathers are not the spots of God’s children Deu 32:5 nor of Christ’s brethren. Lack of Christian fellowship is not a light matter Mat 18:14-35. So Paul questioned their spiritual state and stood in doubt about them Gal 4:19-20.
  4. This experience is as old as the Bible itself. Job experienced the same with his former acquaintances, who were ready to acknowledge him when he was a respected town councillor but who melted like snow off a dyke when his circumstances took a severe downturn.
  5. This shunning of others is commonly experienced by the world, but often too late for them to discover that they had fair-weather friends.

Some questions

If you have fallen out with a former Christian acquaintance and no longer speak with them, what does this say about you? What does it say about your fellowship? It was not Christian fellowship if it can be so easily broken.

What about your Christian fellowship at the individual and collective level? Is it simply worldly agreement?

How many Christian fellowships have you broken off? Why? What makes you think that you can ignore godly people?

What have you learned about God’s fellowship and forgiveness? If you have not learned to forgive Mat 18:21-35 it suggests that you know very little about God’s fellowship and forgiveness. All God’s children learn from His Fatherly teaching Heb 12:5-14, without exception.

Convicting the ungodly

The world needs to be convicted of its ungodly partiality by Christian love and fellowship, by genuine fellowship arising from the Holy Spirit of God seen in 1Pe 1:22-23 and the other biblical texts above. The ungodly will not be convinced by partial, feigned fellowship, pseudo-Christian behaviour and partisan fellowship masquerading as Christian faithfulness.

Dale Carnegie wrote a best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which used a surprising number of Christian concepts. Very well. What if people don’t want to be your friend? Can you not influence them? What about Christian people who do not want to speak to other Christians? How are they going to influence each other for the better?

A few home truths are likely to offend people rather than win them – so you are unlikely to make friends with those who easily take offence, but you may still influence them, especially with the spirit and practice of forgiveness.

Christian fellowship is one of the means of grace to teach Christians to grow in grace and in the experimental knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ 2Pe 3:18. This leads into my next blogposts on the content of Christian fellowship and the utility of Christian fellowship.

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