Over the past few weeks, Christians from several congregations have been watching a film series together, and discussing its content and how to apply it to our lives. In doing so, we have enjoyed “fellowship.”
This week, I shared at length with someone concerning some spiritual matters and difficulties, and received encouragement and advice. I was refreshed and ready for constructive problem solving. That also is “fellowship.”
Each morning I go for a walk, using that time to talk to God about the things that are on my heart. God responds to my concerns. That too, is “fellowship.”
This term “fellowship” is not strictly exclusive to the use of the Christian community. An ordinary dictionary defines a fellowship as “a group of people with common interests or ideals.” Many groups have that, as do Christians. However, the Biblical usage of the word goes much farther, and in the fullness of its Biblical meaning, there is no other assembly that enjoys such fellowship.
The Greek word used in the New Testament is “koinonia,” literally meaning “communion, sharing in common, or partnership.” A theological dictionary says: “Fellowship is joint participation in a person or a project with mutuality of spirit.” That definition comes alive to the believer, because the “person” is the Living God, the “project” is His eternal plan and its outworking, and the “mutuality of spirit” is the oneness produced by the relationship each one of us has with Christ, through the Spirit of God.
Furthermore, “joint participation” is the like the legal usage “joint owner,” where each partner owns all. Thus, each one of us is a 100% participant of Jesus Christ. Each one of us is a 100% participant in the work of God. And each one of us is a 100% participant in His Spirit. It is more than being merely interested in Christ. It is more than holding to the ideals that God gives. It is actually being a joint partner with Almighty God, in His person, and His work.
Jesus prayed in John 17: “I do not pray for these alone (the disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me . . .”
Jesus prayed that we would have that oneness, experience that oneness, and live it out, for one purpose, that the world would believe in Him. He didn’t tell us to be united in our interests or ideals or anything else that might cause us to agree, but to find our unity in Him and in His purposes.
Fellowship is a precious treasure. Like many treasures, it is not always easy to lay hold of, or to guard once we have it. Yet it is of immeasurable worth, not only to us, but to a world that may not be able to believe the reality of our Jesus without seeing the oneness that shines in the beauty of this jewel.