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.