PHILIPPIANS 1:3–5 – I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
THEME OF THE DAY. PRACTICING BIBLICAL FELLOWSHIP. About thirty years ago, Jerry Bridges wrote a “must read” book on fellowship. It was under the title “Crisis of Caring: Recovering the True Meaning of Fellowship.” It was updated in 2012 with a new title, “True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia.” In the preface, Bridges wrote, “There is a crisis of caring in the church of Jesus Christ today. We are all so busy, absorbed in our own responsibilities and insulated from one another. We pass each other like ships in the night, uttering friendly but empty, ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’ and hearing an equally hollow response, “Oh, fine, how are you?” We would be shocked if someone replied, ‘Would you really like to know?’”
I don’t believe any sensitive Christian would disagree with him. Life is busy. We are absorbed in our own worlds. Investing, spiritually investing, in other believers for mutual growth, mutual encouragement, and real life on life relationships centered on Jesus Christ is difficult. Why? Mainly time and intentionality. Such fellowship will not occur in the corporate setting of church on a Sunday morning. The time is brief and the environment for spiritual intimacy and sharing restricted. Yet, this investment in each other is commanded by the Lord and defines one of the purposes of the church. And this spiritual investment is also necessary for spiritual health and growth. We simply need each other in this thing called “the Christian life.” Why? We hurt. We suffer. We get discouraged. We need help and God has formed us in His church to minister to one another. This ministry must happen in the arena of Biblical fellowship and that not only on the Lord’s Day but beyond in environments of open sharing and ministry to one another. How are we to do this? How are we going to be what we are supposed to be with one another under the banner of Christ’s love? Consider with me three requirements if we are going to sincerely and consistently obey God and “love one another” in the practice of Biblical fellowship.
First, fellowshipping Christians must be Christ-centered Christians. Without Him being the central Figure in our lives and directing our lives; without His Lordship shaping our lives, obedience to His commands won’t grip us and move us to action. We will be selective in our obedience and what easily gets neglected is the command to commit ourselves to believers for sacrificial spiritual investments in one another.
A second requirement to be fellowshipping Christians is prayer and that in two ways. Pray to the Lord to give us a heart for fellowship; a real heart to invest spiritually into the lives of other Christians. Then, pray for God to create a hunger for other believers in our spheres of influence, our churches, to have the same hearts for Biblical fellowship. And the first two requirements lead to the third . . .
A final requirement to be fellowshipping Christians is intentionality. What does that mean? Reach out. Start with hospitality and spending time with other believers OUTSIDE of church to minister truth and encouragement. And when it comes to intentionality, it means take the first step. There are many Christians who are hurting; emotionally and spiritually – right in our own churches. They need fellowship; ministry from us to lift up their drooping hearts. Let’s seek the Lord and then put obedience to our prayers by reaching out to other believers. May it never be said of us or our churches the words of David, “When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:3-4).
PRAYER: “Father, help me to practice fellowship with Your people as You command and desire.”
QUOTE: “Fellowship with other Christians is not only commanded but necessary for our spiritual growth.”