Grace 101

There are words in normal church vocabulary that are supposed to be fully and easily understood by those within the church.  Those same words may have different or puzzling meanings to outsiders.  We don’t often think about church jargon, but we certainly have it.  If you tell your unchurched friend that you were “really blessed by the fellowship during the mission fest last night,” she may have no idea what you are talking about.

I think “fellowship” is one of those words.  I’m not even sure that most of us know what it should mean.  I have heard all kinds of messages on how important fellowship is, but in the same churches I have seen very little evidence of any real fellowship.  Oh yes, the people who like each other get together and have good times, but that happens outside the church as well.

Yet, when you open the amazing box of gifts that came with your salvation, you will find something that could be called “fellowship.”  Basically, it means that you are now part of a community, with all the benefits and privileges thereof.  In fact, it means that you are part of a body and all parts are important and connected.  Since you are an important part of the body, the rest of the body loves you and accepts you and supports you.  The church needs you, not to do work, but just to be who you are.

Honestly, the church hasn’t done very well with this part of salvation’s gift.  We seem to be much better at making people feel separate or unwanted.  The church often fosters competition and judgment that are inconsistent with the character of Jesus.  Some would go so far as to say that they have found more friendship and acceptance outside the church than inside.  That’s very sad.

But those who seek love in the body of Christ will find it.  There are good people among the believers.  There are people who will help and encourage and love.  Their love might be challenging sometimes, as they refuse to allow you to keep hurting yourself or deceiving yourself.  But there are people who care.  They care because Jesus cares and they are filled with His life.

Just understand that other believers are just as hesitant and immature and compromised as you are.  They struggle too.  They are failures who need a Savior.  I know that some of them act like they have it all together, but that’s also part of their struggle.  They are afraid to relax and let others know the truth.

I have been in full-time ministry for over 35 years.  I have known a lot of believers through that time.  Some of them I call friends.  A handful of them are people who share life and support.  Those few are precious.  They are not users or judges or critics.  They are just friends—and brothers and sisters in Jesus.

I know that some unbelievers are good friends also but my Christian friends are especially important because we share a common life, the life of Jesus.  We draw from Him a common strength and understanding, a love that goes beyond this life and this world.  As I look around the church I see many people that stretch my belief that we will all enjoy each other in Heaven.  I believe it, but I can hardly imagine it.  But these few friends—well, let’s just say that they are evidence that Heaven isn’t just a place far away.  A little of the love and acceptance of Heaven is mine when I am with them.


Filed under Church, Grace 101, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Fellowship

  1. Fellow Survivor

    Dave, thank you for this post. Fellowship and Community are something I struggle with everyday, although I know I both need it and want it. I attend a church that encourages Community, but I am just, lets just say afraid to expose myself. I can not hide what is in my heart, and that is what it is. Some baggage I need to let go of but to be honest, I just don’t want to. Just sayuing whats in my heart. I cant lie to Jesus

    • Fellow Survivor

      Katherine, where are you on this topic? Getting together with other believers is so important but I don’t want to be judged. I so enjoy the back and forth discussion about Jesus,Aposeles, Proverbs, Psalms, Old Testiment. I have loved this stuff ” God’s Word” since I was a kid. I have no idea why. All I know is that I taught my daughter God’s Word the way I learned it and she is the strongest Believer I know. I can feel the gentle push towards fellowship with other believers so why do I resists?

  2. Repol

    I read into the fellowship in the New Testament a genuine family of adelphoi–brothers and sisters. I fully expected that to be the default position of the church. Joined a church of about 150 people and went in believing they were my family. I invested myself into that community as family for 15 years, serving on every committee, teaching SS, having youth over, finding them jobs, giving referrals, editing papers and college entrance essays, visiting the elderly. But when I needed them, I didn’t get loving family response. I got rules and orders and no mercy. My ideal shattered. Now I’m kind of afraid of church people, even though I know we’re supposed to be in fellowship. I have just a few close, safe people I trust to open up to.

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