Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Fellowship (page 2 of 2)

Fellowship

When our TAG (‘Truth Application Group’) finished up last week we were sharing with each other what we had learned through the group and during the time period of the group. For me, the answer had several parts, but one of the main things that I’ve been thinking about since we started meeting (and one of the things that’s been the greatest blessing to my heart!) is the topic of fellowship.

Too many people use the word and never think about what it means. ‘Fellowship’ is roughly synonymous with ‘participation’; in fact, one Greek word is translated as either ‘fellowship’ or ‘participation’ throughout the NT. To have fellowship, then, means something like ‘to participate in something along with another person who is also participating in the same thing.

Christian fellowship is even more specific, though. 1 John teaches that because we’re in Christ, we have fellowship with God (within the life of the Triune God himself). We have fellowship with one another, then, when we each participate in the life of God and share that experience with each other so that each of us can better experience the life of God (by sharing the other’s experience of the life of God).

That’s all really wordy and convoluted, so I asked my cousin and really cool graphic designer, Josh Rivers, to do a little graphic for me. It’s below.

What I want to highlight from the above picture is this: shared life experiences does not equal fellowship. Just having things in common in this life (ie. being the same age, same marital status, same life stage, etc.) is not fellowship. Fellowship is sharing in each other’s experience of the life of God. It is necessarily God-centred and God-focused.

The lesson from that is this: If we choose our Christian friends the same way the world chooses their non-Christian friends (ie. how are you like me? what earthly things do we have in common? are we the same age / gender? do you have the same interests?) we’re missing out on more than just fellowship with each other. We’re missing out on wonderful, new experiences in the life of God. What a shame!

Below is another graphic from Josh. This one simply shows how as each one grows closer to God and experiences more of his life, it increases the true fellowship that each person can have with each other.

Do you want to be a good friend to a brother or sister? Grow closer to God and you will be inviting them into the life of God, revealing God to them. This is the essence of friendship.

Thoughts on Communion with God as Friendship

Thomas Goodwin offers these thoughts on communion with God as friendship, and how this concept should shape our devotional life. Do we serve out of duty or delight?

Mutual communion is the soul of all true friendship and a familiar converse with a friend hath the greatest sweetness in it … [so] besides the common tribute of daily worship you owe to [God], take occasion to come into his presence on purpose to have communion with him. This is truly friendly, for friendship is most maintained and kept up by visits; and these, the more free and less occasioned by urgent business … they are, the more friendly they are. … We use to check our friends with this upbraiding, You still [always] come when you have some business, but when will you come to see me? … When thou comest into his presence, be telling him still how well thou lovest him; labour to abound in expressions of that kind, than which … there is nothing more taking with the heart of any friend.

—–
As cited in JI Packer, A Quest for Godliness (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), 208.

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