It’s Monday Grace!
Why is it so much harder to live in fellowship with people than with God? After all, God is perfect. He expects us to be righteous and good and faithful. Seems like it would be more difficult to stay in fellowship with Him.
But fellowship with people, well that is sometimes very hard.
Perhaps the two are not the same. Perhaps fellowship with God is different from fellowship with people. Of course. Fellowship with God, as I wrote last week, is a matter of identity and life. His life flows in us. We have no life, no righteousness, no identity apart from Him. He has chosen to be stuck with us. We can trust in Him and believe that we will always be one with Him.
But people. People still deal with the flesh. All the striving that goes on, even in church, makes it difficult for us to be together. Even believers still serve themselves first almost all the time. We still feel only our own pain and think only our own thoughts. We find it hard to care about the struggles of others, particularly the struggles we cause for them. Comparisons, insecurity, anxiety: these all get in the way of good fellowship.
It is quite possible for someone to be in fellowship with God and still struggle to have fellowship with other believers. Paul said, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18) I take that to mean that it won’t always be possible, but it should be our goal.
There are a few things we have to understand about earthly fellowship.
First, even though we are called to unity and peace, we will not always agree and enjoy being together. Our fellowship comes out of our fellowship with the Lord. That means that we all draw the same life from Him. We are to share His mind and heart. But, He is a God of creativity and variety. We are not all the same. It takes time for us to appreciate our differences, especially when we are just beginning to see how He has been working in us.
Second, I mentioned last week that I like to think of the Christian life as a walk with the Lord. My family lives near the mountains of Colorado most of the year and in the forests of Minnesota the rest of the time. Hiking, or just walking, can be an adventure in both places. Hiking in the mountains or forests is not like walking on a sidewalk. You have to watch your step. You might try to hold hands, but you have to let go just to keep your balance.
It’s hard enough to follow the Lord on the rocky and bumpy path of life. Just keeping my eyes on Him and not on the dangers or distractions around me seems hard enough. When I walk with others, I find it even harder to stay in step with them. They have their own stumbling to do.
You see, we are all little children following the Master on rocky trails. We stumble, we cut each other off, we get in the way of others. Sometimes we can help, and sometimes we are the problem.
Finally, it is more important to have fellowship with Jesus than with others. Many of us have lived through times when we had to separate from others as we kept fellowship with Him. In other words, following Him took us away from others. Maybe they wanted us to go somewhere He did not want for us. Maybe they were not really concerned about following Him. Maybe we just had different paths to walk. He is the One most important.
It is clear from the Scriptures that we are not to be loners in our faith. It is also clear from the Scriptures that fellowship with others, even those who consider themselves to be believers, is not easy. If you find yourself in one of those times when you feel separate, look to Him. If He wants other believers to be part of your life, trust Him to lead you to those who can walk with you.
You would be surprised at how many people are looking for someone who will just walk with them. They don’t want judgment. They might not even want advice. They might just need a friend or a companion. Just like you do. Trust the Lord to bring your walks together.