Travelling, planning or working is much more enjoyable when we do it with friends and family. We are happiest when we work and play together with people we love. If we are separated from those we love, or we live without friendship, life becomes dry and dutiful. Then, we lose the joy that comes from sharing. God made us for fellowship. Sometimes fellowship comes easy, like when we are growing up with our brothers and sisters. Great fellowship may be enjoyed when we get together with cousins or school mates for special events. Sometimes working alongside of others in the church can be fantastic. Fun-filled fellowship becomes more challenging, however, as we get older. Friends move away and we are forced to work with people who have different perspectives or heavy emotional baggage. Finding unity with those people will be very challenging.
I cannot remember when the USA was so politically polarized as it is today. The division, however, is understandable because theology, ideology, and behavior are so varied for different groups of people. The views of many are so diametrically opposite that anger and even violence seems to loom on the horizon. A lot of media outlets perpetuate and aggravate the deep divide in the nation, as if it was their mission in life to do so. We pray for our nation that righteousness and civility will prevail and that people will learn to get along together and to produce a more godly union.
Civil government is one of three institutions established by God. The family, the church, and government each carry a responsibility before Him. All are necessary for life and well being and all will need God’s help to be successful in
Running Away From the Prize
Since the Bible tells us that evil will abound as we approach the end of the age, it is no surprise to see political division within our nation. Evil will become more vile but the holy will become more holy. It is a clash of two kingdoms and it is unavoidable. I praise the Lord for godly men and women who courageously fight for righteousness in the land. One day, unity and love will rule in America.
Family can also be a place of great division although not as much as in the political arena. As families mature individuals can embrace different ideologies. For example, young people can depart from the theology of their parents after spending time in a liberal university. Friction can arise between individuals and close families can drift apart. This is often very painful, especially for the parents who have sacrificed their lives to bless their children. The bond between brothers and sisters can be ripped apart by differing life styles, sexual perspectives, or matters of faith. Unfortunately, family members can refuse to see each other or talk with each other for many years. There is no joy in that. If harsh words are spoken the pain of rejection and division can feel worse than a physical beating. Then people run away from the blessing that God intended for them when He created family.
An Obvious Foundation
The church should be the unmovable fortress of fellowship. Regardless of what is happening in the nation or even in one’s family, the church gives us the strongest potential for unity. For many, it is the last resort for fellowship, fun, and fulfillment in this life.
Unlike civil government, or relatives in a family, the church is attended voluntarily. Those who attend do so because they believe in God and in the teachings of the Bible. The members of the church start off with a common goal; to please and obey the Lord. We have this obvious foundation that civil government and even family does not always possess. It is not easy, but serious saints endeavor to be faithful disciples. They do not run away from the prize of fellowship so easily. They try to work things out and walk in unity with fellow believers. Dozens of verses in the Bible exhort us to keep the unity of the faith and to be patient and long-suffering with each other. Mature Christians endure the awkwardness of some coworkers in the church for the sake of the Gospel. They know that the blessing and favor of God comes to those who dwell in unity and they work hard to focus on receiving the commanded blessing.
Fighting for Fellowship
Since we cannot expect love to flow on the political scene and we may not find it in our families, let us reach for fellowship in the church. This is the prize that we should strive for. If we find a fervent love of the saints we will be complete. Without it, life becomes dry and dismal. Let’s do whatever we can to enjoy church life together.
Five Keys For Fantastic Fellowship
1. A Common Vision. Fellowship cannot thrive unless the church understands its vital importance. Everyone must work together to embrace friendship, be inclusive, and focus on being a church family.
2. Only Positive Talk. All gossip, criticism and backbiting should be resisted and stopped immediately. There are always differences of opinions, misunderstandings and even bad behavior within a church family. Such details should only be shared with the individual involved or with a pastor. When someone starts to share negative information with the wrong person, they should be stopped in their tracks. The interruption may be offensive initially but soon it will be the culture of the church to only speak positively about one another.
3. Forgiveness Not Bitterness. Offense is unavoidable but forgiveness is always a choice. If we do not forgive, the offense will become entrenched and bitterness will follow. This brings disease to physical bodies, families and churches. Without exception, we must humble ourselves and always forgive.
4. Including Everyone. It is easy to overlook young people, newcomers, and quiet folk. People can be members of a church for years yet still feel like they are outsiders. Some feel like they are invisible. Study the church family and reach out deliberately to those who seem uninvolved. To feel included is the beginning of fellowship and life. Pride can hinder this process as some only want to be involved if they can have authority or place. Humility is essential for fellowship. Inviting different people to parties and events builds family. This responsibility cannot be left to the pastor. Everyone should be a team player for fellowship.
5. Everyone a Worker. Over time, fellowship will become empty unless people are working together. Everyone needs godly purpose in their lives or else they begin to feel insignificant. There are many responsibilities and tasks in the administration and life of a church family. Worker teams must be established and everyone needs to be involved so that a few are not burdened with all the work. Kind-hearted, team leaders who can enlist others are essential for good fellowship.
fulfilling the task they have been given.