by Polly Gwinn, September 2007
True fellowship is similar to how it's shown here in this picture: young and old harmoniously
together with Jesus in the center. To me, "young" and "old" in this context here, is not an age
thing; it stands for all possible life's situations. So it's not just about a "happy, merry" fellowship
(although it belongs, too) but about a close and intimate fellowship that goes so much deeper - it
goes beyond everything known in this life. This picture here is a mere yet absolutely beautiful
stereotype of what true fellowship can be and is intended to be by God.
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Apostle John had a personal fellowship with Christ Jesus. He walked, talked and ate with Him. John listened to Him preach, watched Him heal the sick, feed the multitudes and still the storms. John saw Christ in the flesh! He heard Him speak! He touched Him! He knew Him! This fellowship John had with Jesus Christ was a great privilege and he writes his little, power packed book of 1st John to extend this fellowship to us. Fellowship is not only to be with Christ but with the Father through Christ (John 17:3) and with each and every other Christian. God talked about this through the prophet Jeremiah; “let him who boasts, boast about this; that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24). John could make this boast! He knew God and indeed he had fellowship with Him. This is no casual acquaintance we are offered. The scripture describes Christians in terms of children and sons of God (John 1:12), branches of Christ who is the Vine (John 15:1) and the body of Christ of which He is the Head (1 Corinthians 12). We are so joined to Him that whatever is true of Him becomes true of us by extension. We are saved by Christ, through Christ, for Christ and unto Christ. We are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and are raised with Him (Colossians. 2:12, 3:1). We are made alive with Christ (Colossians 2:13), glorified with Him (Romans 8:17), joint heirs (Romans 8:17) and will someday reign with Him (Revelation 22:5). We are joined so closely that we are seated with Him in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6). He chose us before the creation of the world and we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4).
God has been on the move to re-establish fellowship with man since the fall of Adam and Eve. With sin there is separation from God but just as He sought out Adam and Eve from their sinful hiding place (Genesis 3:8-9), He will seek to re-establish a godly fellowship with every man. John wanted to share the fellowship he had with Jesus with others in order to make his joy complete (1 John 1:3-4). We as Christians must follow John’s example and share our personal fellowship and relationship with the world. And just as God sought out Adam and Eve we must strive to seek out the sinful of the world to bring them into the light (Acts 26:17b-18). A believer is never content to keep this to the good news about God to himself. To our shame we sometimes get run down by others who reproach us for ‘talking too much about God’. Some get the wrong impression that we must not have total trust in God if we have to continually build Him up and constantly remind others that we are believers. It is not that Christians are not content, entirely satisfied and joyful but we just cannot suppress the urge to extend the fellowship we have with Christ to others. It is simply that our joy is of such a nature that we want very much to share it. Have you ever asked someone about their experience with God and had them answer; ‘this is personal and I do no want to talk about it’? Probably not!
Fellowship involves an extended family in heaven and on earth (Ephesians 3:14-15). There is one Shepherd and we together are His sheep (John 10:11, 14-16, 27-30). God called us into fellowship (1 Corinthians 1:9) and we are all members of the same fold or body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Christians are partners who share in the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:23), share in the faith (Philemon 6), in the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14, Philippians 2:1) in sufferings and comfort (Philippians 3:10, Revelation 1:9) and we will share eternal glory (1 Peter 5:1). We are His people; the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). To have fellowship with Christ is to have fellowship with all others who are members of the Shepherd’s flock. We are not to wait until eternity to start sharing this fellowship in Christ. While living on the earth as Christians we are to love one another (John 15:12), exhort each other (Hebrews 3:13), bear one another’s burdens (Ephesians 4:2) and welcome and accept one another (Romans 15:7).
“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). This love that we all hold in common is so valued that we intuitively feel a strong sense of belonging and of responsibility to one another. For some, fellowship comes naturally and easily while for others it is a little strained. If you are pulling away from not only His closeness but also the comfort that Christian oneness offers freely, let God work with you and in you and let’s make our joy complete.