Did you know that “Quitter’s Day” is coming up next week? That is what Strava, the creator of a popular running and cycling app, calls January 19th; the day a recent large research survey concluded when most people have abandoned New Year’s resolutions. Whether you make specific New Year’s resolutions or not, there are certain habits and characteristics Christians are called toward. Often, failure to follow through on such commitments comes from a lack of specificity and/or understanding. “I want to get healthier” is a nice intention, but it lacks a tangible goal. Furthermore, if you lack understanding in how to improve your health, how will you set goals and create habits in sympathy with your intention? Last week Pastor Andrew wrote of being resolved to be in God’s Word, this week I encourage you to resolve yourself to “the fellowship”.
Following Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, about 3,000 souls received his exhortation, got baptized, and thereby added to the newly founded Church. What a wonderful day, but also potentially chaotic! Fortunately, this early church was marked by certain habits: “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)” Unfortunately, “fellowship” is now reduced to something we do rather than something we are. This critical misunderstanding creates a very watered-down version of biblical fellowship whereby we feel we are doing fellowship by having a meal or gathering socially. Those are good things but not necessarily Christian fellowship. Fellowship comes from the Greek word koinonia which has the sense of common (or shared) partnership. Think of Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. This ‘fellowship’ consisted of nine individuals with varied backgrounds (human, dwarf, elf, and hobbit) yet a galvanizing common purpose: to oppose the nine night riders and dispose of the ring of power.
Christians, regardless of any social or ethnic background, come together through the Cross and by the work of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:13). “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)” John wrote, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 Jn 1:3)” Fellowship is therefore the sharing of a common life with each other through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The partnership element is the outworking of this common fellowship in day-to-day living and worship. In summary, true Christian fellowship is a community of people bound by a common life through union with Christ. Partnership describes how this community interacts within that relationship; we are partners in a calling in which we work harmoniously with a shared purpose to glorify God and to do the work of Jesus Christ. And thus, you commit to ‘the fellowship’ when you commit to follow Christ and serve one-another. It may be a while before our next pot-luck lunch, but your next fellowship opportunity is as near as your next one-another ministry opportunity!
~ Pastor Gary