One of the key messages of the gospel in the New Testament is the need for fellowship. We see the purpose and focus of fellowship in these few verses in Acts 2 after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Fellowship is important, but what does it really entail? What is required of it and what happens during the periods of fellowship? Why do Christians come together to have fellowship? Is it just a means for them to “hang out” together, or is it more than that?
Yes it is much more than just hanging out. Fellowship is important on many levels for a Christian and the importance of coming together cannot be understated. Let us have a brief look at what the bible says about this act.
The Great Commission
When Jesus commissioned the disciples He told them to do three main things. He said for them to:
- Go out into the world and make disciples of all nations
- Baptise them
- Teach them to observe all that Jesus had taught them
Fellowship is the key to this commission that Jesus gave the disciples then as well as His people today. It is by fellowship that these things in the Great Commission could and did take place. In particular the last point was where fellowship was the key so that the people who came to Christ could learn more and grow into the image of Jesus.
Fellowship is when Christians come together to learn the things of The Lord. It is when they come together to share knowledge, insight and understanding of what is going on in their lives and what The Lord is teaching them. It is when they study together and pray over matters so that The Lord will give insight and understanding.
In these scriptures we see that after the people had accepted Jesus they came together, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”(vs 42)
It was in this fellowship that they learned and practiced the things of God, just as Jesus had delivered them to His disciples. Fellowship is a learning process to grow and gain insight and understanding so that we can become mature in Christ Jesus. And maturity is important for without it we remain children in a spiritual sense, unable to stand up to the problems, issues and attacks that will come from the world.
This is why the writer of Hebrews made the point in Hebrews 10:24-25 saying,
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Neglecting to meet together, or failing to come into fellowship with other Christians, can have a devastating effect on Christian growth. If you never meet together, how will you learn? How will you give and receive encouragement? God created man to be a social animal and His kingdom is built on relationships. The most important part of our relationships with each other is built through fellowship.
Sharing and Communion
Wen we come together we come to share and participate in the community of believers. We share what The Lord is doing in our lives. We empathise with others when they are going through difficult times and we offer encouragement and strength from our experience and from the gospel.
We also come together to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Whether you call it taking communion, breaking bread or whatever, it is this action that is done at times of fellowship where we remember the sacrifice of The Lord that Jesus made for us so that we could receive salvation.
It is in sharing these simple things that we build the community of believers. It is in teaching one another that we learn the truth of the gospel. It is in the leading of the Holy Spirit that we grow together as a group of believers and become a church in the name of Jesus Christ.
In these modern times we see many people standing alone. There is a loneliness that exists in the world today where people do not come together in fellowship. And this is not right for the church is a place of fellowship and community. No man is an island, and this is especially true for the followers of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians have left the churches disheartened by the dogma and false doctrines taught in some of them. Many have been hurt by the false teachings that bring God’s people into bondage when they should be bringing them to freedom in Jesus Christ. And thus we see many people disillusioned by the church not knowing which way to turn.
In the name of Jesus and for the sake of fellowship we need to help such people. Reach out the right hand of fellowship to them when they come to you and receive them into the Lord’s fold. It is in sharing that the hurt can be taken away. It is through praying for one another in fellowship that we can bring all matters to The Lord and seek his guidance, his blessing, his insight, his counsel and his comfort.
Yes the early church showed us the way as seen in these few scriptures and the way is clear today. Fellowship is the path for the church and for all of us for no man can stand alone. First they must be in fellowship with Christ and God and then in fellowship with one another, for that was the way established by Jesus.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng provided by Peter Suneson)
You might also like:
The Disciples Commission And Earning Their Income
Jesus Sends Out The Twelve
From Fishermen To Fishers Of Men
The Other Disciples
Jesus Appears To The Disciples
The Lords Work Will Be Done
Wisdom Of Gamaliel
Spreading The Word
Growth In The Kingdom Of God
John The Baptist The Friend Of God