The biblical meaning of fellowship is “having things in common.” It is the godly mandate to be deeply involved with others. Biblical fellowship is a call to interact with God and people until we become close friends. It is more than hanging out together; fellowship brings us into a deep level of heartfelt friendship. Many in the church are friendly, but few build true friendships. I am looking for a better fellowship, New Testament style fellowship that involves loving God and loving one another.
Fellowship with God is celebrated in the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist or Communion. The word ‘communion,’ found in the Bible, is the same as the word fellowship. It is Christ, sharing his life with us. He shared his life by taking our place of judgment on the cross. He took our sin, our pain, our wounds, our poverty, and our curses — and that is only a partial list. In exchange, he gave us his righteousness, his joy, his peace, and his friendship. Communion is an invitation to share in the life of Jesus, not in a stuffy religious sense, but in reality.
Through the Holy Spirit, we enjoy the benefits of Christ. We ask him to guide our steps. We share our joys, our pains and commit our lives to Jesus and as we do, we become close friends. The process produces the kind of fellowship that develops into genuine friendship. The result is a deep satisfying joy. God has welcomed us into personal fellowship with him and his Son. (1Cor. 1: 9) When we reciprocate the offer, our joy becomes complete.
(1Jn. 1:1-4) Christians who have little joy,
usually lack fellowship with God or his people.
It has been said that people are best friends when they are about twelve years old. They spend their days enjoying life together. They explore, discover and share every detail of life. They defend each other, dream together, laugh and communicate their deepest hurts with each other. This time of friendship is full of fun, compassion and understanding. These young friends feel closer than brothers or sisters and they promise to be soul-mates forever.
Usually, they drift apart. One friend matures faster than the other and they cease to have common interests. When interests differ, people find other friends. Families move away, friends go to different schools, get married and become focused on their own families, and the responsibilities of jobs and homes. Fellowship and friendships can drop off because of a lack of time and investment in one another’s lives. People may then forget how to have fellowship and they may forget the joy of true friendships. God’s design, however, is filled with fellowship and friendship. We will have deeper things to share when we are led by the Spirit and we do the work of the Lord. As we mature in Christ, he tells us what and with whom we can share. Walking in the Spirit brings many interesting adventures. Then we look for those with similar experiences for fellowship.
The Bible mentions at least five levels of fellowship. These touch points give us common ground with Christ and with each other.
Here are five levels of spiritual fellowship. (The NKJV)
1. Fellowship of the Spirit. Phil. 2: 1
2. Fellowship of the Gospel. Phil. 1: 5
3. Fellowship of the mystery. Eph. 3: 9
4. Fellowship of ministering to the saints. 2 Cor. 8: 4
5. Fellowship of his sufferings. Phil. 3: 10
1. “If any fellowship of the Spirit.” Phil. 2: 1
This is the personal and intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. When we communicate regularly with the Spirit, we find that he is always sharing secret blessings with us. He guides us, warns us, teaches us and shows us great and wondrous things. We become his close friend. The supernatural way in which he reveals things to us is as special as what he reveals. When we share about our fellowship with the Spirit with other believers our hearts are enlarged. We then have fellowship with each other. We share dreams, experiences, and revelations and we are knit together in the fellowship of the Spirit. It is wonderful.
2. “I thank God,.. for your
fellowship in the Gospel.” Phil.1:5
The fellowship in the Gospel, is enjoying the benefits of our salvation and working together to spread the blessings of Christ to others. The Gospel should be shared with all people; from those who live next door, to those on the other side of the world. It is great to work with others in the fellowship of the Gospel. Working together unites our hearts in amazing friendship.
3. “The fellowship of the mystery,.. that now the wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” Eph. 3: 9-10
God uses average church members to astonish angels and demons in heavenly places. He brings us into the fellowship of spiritual things through prayer, prophesies and acts of supernatural power. To join with others to accomplish heaven’s higher agenda is spectacular fellowship.
4. “The fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” 2 Cor. 8: 4
This is the fellowship of working together to give aid to the needy, to serve and care for other members of Christ’s family. It includes giving offerings to those who live by and serve fulltime, in the ministry. It includes projects to help the needy. It is serving meals to friends, clothing the poor, caring for others and assisting the church and community in practical ways. When we do this with others, we build great friendships and share God’s heart for people. As we partner with him in caring for people, we are drawn into a special fellowship of love.
5. “That I might know him, the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.” Phil. 3: 10
There is even a fellowship that we share in Christ’s sufferings. When we are wrongly accused or persecuted for righteousness sake we are given special comfort from the Holy Spirit. More troubles mean more grace extended to us from heaven. When we go through trials alongside of other people we gain love and a closeness with them in the fires of adversity. There is a secret level of fellowship that God releases during these times. We are brought into his inner courts where he allows us to see his heart. When saints stand together in the fire, their friendships become incredible.
I am looking for better fellowship, mature fellowship, Bible fellowship. It is for those who walk with God. It is for those who open their lives to interact with other people, at a deep level. When real fellowship develops the joy of the Lord is made complete in us. Without this fellowship, we live below our blessing potential and are robbed of joy. The fellowship of the Spirit and the fellowship of the saints bring us into the glories of the Christ-life, just as heaven has planned.