LifeLink Devotions (Click on link for audio blog)
Thursday, November 4, 2021
In addition to being devoted to the teaching and application of the Word of God, the REAL church is also devoted to the fellowship. I often wondered why the verse in Acts 2:42 doesn’t just say that they were devoted to fellowship, but rather to “the” fellowship. What is it that makes the fellowship of the church distinct from all other forms of fellowship?
I believe the answer is this – normal human relationships are strictly two-dimensional, on a horizontal plane only, and for that reason tend to be primarily self-centered. Relationships in the Body of Christ are three-dimensional, like a triangle, with a horizontal and a vertical plane. The vertical plane of our relationship to God in the power of the Holy Spirit is what sets “the fellowship” apart.
Here’s how the Apostle John describes it:
1 John 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”
Here are some principles upon which REAL church fellowship is built:
- Relationship with God is possible only faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We are all equally guilt, and in Christ equally forgiven.
- In Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us to produce the character of Jesus Christ. The same Spirit is at work in each of us.
- One aspect of the character of Jesus Christ is to sacrifice self for the sake of others. Philippians 2 describes what our attitudes should be towards one another in the Body of Christ. “1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
- Relationships on the horizontal plane take on a whole new context because of the humble spirit of Christ in each of us that puts others ahead of ourselves.
You see, within the church there is no favoritism or distinction between people. We do not determine value based on race, color, social status, financial status, or past sin. In Christ we all have the same value – His!
Therefore, we make no distinctions between people and we fellowship equally with one another, or at least we should. We should be the model to the world of love and acceptance, of understanding and compassion, of healing and forgiveness. The world should be asking to be a part of “the fellowship” because it goes so far beyond anything they can find in themselves.
Unfortunately the world is not knocking down our doors to get into this fellowship, and the reason may be that we aren’t modeling it to them very well. They see us fighting and bickering with one another, holding grudges and being unforgiving, and seeking our own benefit instead of the benefit of another. They hear us call it fellowship, but it looks no different then what they get in any other area of their secular life. What is the attraction in that?
We need to honestly look at our relationships and determine why certain people are being excluded. If in any way it has to do with personal benefit, anger, frustration, personality clashes, vengeance, or any reason other than lack of opportunity, then we are in sin and are hurting the cause of Christ. Spend time reflecting on your fellowship with God through Jesus Christ and what makes that possible, then let that same spirit of humble surrender influence your relationships.
Let’s continue to have REAL church by having REAL fellowship.