The Nature of Christian Fellowship

Fellowship is one of the Christian spiritual disciplines. The Greek word for fellowship, koinonia, describes the unity of the Spirit that comes from believers’ shared beliefs, convictions, and behaviours. Fellowship is not a suggestion or an option among many other disciplines but a requirement for the child of God. Unfortunately, many today choose to ignore this vital Christian practice, especially with the rise of social media and online church membership. The Church has also somewhat failed by ignoring some critical fellowship practices. Partiality, for example, has often led to many feeling that they do not quite belong, thus damaging members’ commitment to the fellowship.

It is necessary, therefore, to consider certain principles drawn from the scriptures regarding the nature of Christian fellowship. 

Shared Beliefs

Today, we have so many Christian denominations due to theological differences. As much as this is a phenomenon we cannot run away from, there are central core beliefs that hold us all together as the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:4-6 mentions some of the beliefs we share as Christians. In Ephesians 4, Paul exhorted the churches to live a life worthy of the calling they received. He then shared some Christian values meant to enhance the unity of believers, which included humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with each other in love. Christian fellowship is not a gathering of perfect people but of sinful people being perfected. He then further mentioned that there is one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to one hope; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:1-6). All believers of Scripture hold to the truth mentioned above. Genuine fellowship is experienced when those shared values and beliefs are in place. More shared beliefs include biblical inspiration (2 Timothy 3:15-16), the Holy Trinity, the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:14), and salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

Every Person Matters

In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, Paul uses the body to show the importance of every believer. No part of the body lives in isolation, but all work together for a specific purpose. If one body part is aching, the entire body is affected and works together to bring healing. Each part of the body has a purpose set out for it. The idea is that when Christians ignore fellowship, they fail in their role to the Church and deny it the opportunity to fulfil its responsibility towards them. If the Church came together and embraced each person’s uniqueness and differences, we could achieve a lot more in matters evangelism and expanding the Body of Christ. Each person’s strength complements another’s weakness; hence, in the family of believers, no one is self-sufficient except God alone.

A Fellowship of Saints

Christians are also referred to as saints. The word saint means one who is set apart. Christians have, therefore, been set apart for God’s special purpose. In the Catholic Church, a saint is an individual who is said to have had an unusual attribute of holiness as a result of an unusually close walk with God. However, the Scripture uses the word saint to refer to Christians regardless of how deep they are in their relationship with God. The Corinthian Church faced many challenges, including divisions and strife. Yet, Paul addressed them as saints (1 Corinthians 1:2). Christians in Rome were also addressed as saints (Romans 1:7), etc. Therefore, Christian fellowship comprises people whom God has set apart.

Christ, the Center of Fellowship

We have been saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). He initiated the Christian fellowship, and without him, none would be a saint. We are all held together by him as by a vine (John 15:4-5). We are being made to be more like him (Romans 8:29): to love each other as he loved us, forgive each other as he forgave us, and sacrifice ourselves for each other as he did for us. He is the one we all look up to. In him, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, black nor white, slave nor free (Galatians 3:28-29). He prayed that those who will believe through the disciples’ preaching would be one as he and the Father are one (John 17:20-21). We are to emulate the triune God in our fellowship. Our behaviour as Christians should be more like that of Christ.

Supportive Fellowship

The early Church supported each other in many ways. In Acts 2:42-45, we learn that they valued the fellowship, submitted themselves to the word of God, prayed, and ensured that no one was lacking in their midst. They sold everything they had to ensure they supported all who had need. Today, we have Christians helping each other in various ways. We have seen Christian fellowships supporting others on important occasions like weddings, burials, birthdays, hospital bills, and school fees. As a gospel minister, I have been encouraged to visit with other Christians and be warmly welcomed despite our different tribes and communities. I have spent nights at the homes of people who are related to me only through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Being together encourages spiritual growth, social welfare, emotional stability, financial growth, and even accountability.

Growing Fellowship

Christian fellowship grows not only spiritually but also numerically. Acts 2:47 shows that God continued increasing the number of believers in the early Church. The fellowship of Christians grows through evangelism. Reaching out to non-believers is not the work of pastors or evangelists alone but the duty of all Christians. If you would like to surrender your life to Christ, click here. Christ has called us to go beyond our community and nation to spread the good news of salvation (Acts 1:8). Effective evangelism demands a heart that is moved by the needs of the lost and one convicted of its beliefs. 

We encourage every Christian to be a part of a fellowship. As Jesus said, how do you prove that you belong to him? Well, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35). We are not ashamed to be in a family of people who are not perfect and are going through sanctification. Isolating oneself from the fellowship signifies pride and considering oneself better than others. It also goes against a direct command in Scripture to gather with fellow saints (Hebrews 10:23-25) and to consider others better than oneself (Philippians 2:4). God uses us to edify each other in the Body (Hebrews 10:25), making us agents of sanctification, all to the glory of God.

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