Fellowship or Fell-Off-A-Ship? (FAQ Part 2)
Biblical fellowship (koinōnia) is like being on a ship and each believer is your fellow sailor or shipmate. The crew will share and participate in the great journey led by our Shipmaster or Captain, who is Christ. (Acts 2:42 / Philippians 2:1-5 / 1 John 1:6-7)
When believers fellowship with each other they are directed by the Holy Spirit. However, our “old nature” tends to get in the way of having true koinonia.
I’ve had many great conversations with believers and felt recharged and excited about God.
I’ve also had conversations that left an after taste in my spirit. Instead of fellowship it felt more like I “fell-off-a-ship”. We all know that people don’t just fall off a ship; it’s usually suspect to some funny business. Spiritually, believers can be like pirates who send their own to walk the plank to Davy Jones’ Locker. Or you may see telltale symptoms of the institution sinking and must “jump ship” or “abandon ship” before it’s too late.
#3 – But don’t we need regular fellowship?
I wouldn’t say we need it. If we were in a place where we couldn’t find other believers, Jesus certainly would be able to take care of us. Thus, I’d phrase that a bit differently: Will people who are growing to know the Living God also desire real and meaningful connections with other believers? Absolutely! The call to the kingdom is not a call to isolation. Every person I’ve ever met who is thriving in the life of Jesus has a desire to share authentic fellowship with other believers. They realize that whatever they know of God’s life is just in part, and only the fullest revelation of him is in the church.
But sometimes that kind of fellowship is not easy to find. Periodically on this journey we may go through times when we can’t seem to find any other believers who share our hunger. That’s especially true for those who find that conforming to the expectations of the religious institutions around them diminishes their relationship with Jesus. They may find themselves excluded by believers with whom they’ve shared close friendship. But no one going through that looks on that time as a treat. It is incredibly painful and they will look for other hungry believers to share the journey with.
My favorite expression of body life is where a local group of people chooses to walk together for a bit of the journey by cultivating close friendships and learning how to listen to God together.
#4 – Shouldn’t we be committed to a local fellowship?
That has been said so often today, that most of us assume it is in the Bible somewhere. I haven’t found it yet. Many of us have been led to believe that we can’t possibly survive without the ‘covering of the body’ and will either fall into error or backslide into sin. But doesn’t that happen inside our local congregations as well?
I know many people who live outside those structures and find not only an ever-deepening relationship with God, but also connections with other believers that run far deeper than they found in the institution. I haven’t lost any of my passion for Jesus or my affection for his church. If anything those have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.
Scripture does encourage us to be devoted to one another not committed to an institution. Jesus indicated that whenever two or three people get together focused on him, they would experience the vitality of church life.
Is it helpful to regularly participate in a local expression of that reality? Of course. But we make a huge mistake when we assume that fellowship takes place just because we attend the same event together, even regularly, or because we belong to the same organization. Fellowship happens where people share the journey of knowing Jesus together. It consists of open, honest sharing, genuine concern about each other’s spiritual well being and encouragement for people to follow Jesus however he leads them.
Church membership has always been one of those topics that bother me. Membership implies exclusivity in a negative way. It becomes a “do this and that and never do that” then you can be part of the club.
Mark Foreman from North Coast Calvary Chapel hits the bulls-eye about the purpose of the church (without walls). Learn more from this video.
Transformed people, transforming our world.
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” With these words, Jesus clearly taught the purpose of the church and of individual believers. Salt and light are objects that invade and transform their environment. Christ transforms believers (making us a new creation), and then uses us to transform our world. We are world changers, changed by the love of Christ and changing our world with his love. Transformed by His love, transforming our world with His love.
We want to be believers who passionately live in Christ and live out Christ. As we live in relationship with Christ we are transformed by His truth and love. As we reach and live out the nature of Christ to others they are touched by His truth and love.
To be salt and light to our world we, the church, must be a church without walls. That is, a church that is easily accessible to those seeking new life in Jesus, and one that urges believers to go outside the walls of the church to touch and transform people and culture within their sphere of influence.
When we gather we are in the locker room, worshiping and being trained to be more efficient on the playing field of life. As we live our lives we are the church scattered, being salt and light in our individual spheres of influence. What is clear from Jesus’ words is that his plan to redeem the world includes us! We can’t be passive. We are the program.
The end result of this is transformed people, transforming our world. [Source]
If this has inspired you, there is a full sermon by Mark Foreman about this topic.
Recorded on November 11, 2012 – http://www.northcoastcalvary.org/_audio/sermons/2012.11.11.mp3
I hope you enjoy the 2 music videos from my favorite artists!
Switchfoot – Stars
TobyMac – Speak Life