One of the things I value more these days than ever before is fellowship with brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Be it a breakfast or meal with a brother, a Bible Study with a few people, a Sunday Gathering or a visit with followers of Jesus, it is spiritually and emotionally motivating, encouraging and precious.
In the New International Version of the Bible, the word “fellowship” is used 96 times. In the Old Testament, apart from once in the Psalms where “fellowship” is used in the context with other believers, it’s used exclusively in the context of a “fellowship offering”. In the New Testament its use varies … such as in Acts 2:42 for the Body of Christ or 1 Corinthians 5:2 to be put out of the Body of Christ. In Galatians 2v9 it’s used for acceptance of a brother as in the “right hand of fellowship”. It is also used in the context of having a relationship with darkness in 2 Corinthians 6:14. This prompts me to ask where “fellowship with darkness” comes from. For an answer we need to go to the Garden of Eden and read about the devastating effects of sin. Once Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and eaten from the tree they were prohibited from eating of it further.
Ge 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Did you get that? They sinned and they knew they sinned and hid from God! Where God came to “fellowship” with the man and his wife, they hid away from fellowshipping. Rebellion’s consequences are so devastating that God Himself withdraws His fellowship from them.
Gen 3:23 “So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
God created man for fellowship, both with Himself and other humans (Gen 2:18) … but now that sin is present, the fellowship with God is broken and it will disturb person-to-person fellowship … just think of brother killing brother because of jealousy in Genesis chapter 4. Take the Old Testament as an example … fellowship with God is broken over and over … and the same needs to be said about man … even Israel, the chosen people of God. Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, people are called into a new means of fellowship with the Triune God:
2Co 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
1Co 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
But how does this “fellowship” actually work? A must read is the start of 1 John:
1Jn 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 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. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
This is a profound passage and to deal with it thoroughly will take many pages … but allow me to say that the restoration of “fellowship” with God and the reversal of the banishment of Genesis 3 is found in Jesus and His shed blood … and nowhere else! John tells us that he (and the other apostles) experienced Messiah (Jesus) personally (v1), and that He who was with the Father came to proclaim eternal life … that is, to show the way back to the Father; back to fellowship and relationship with the Father. In v3 he informs us that his (and the other apostles’) fellowship is with the Father and Jesus His Son, and if we have fellowship with them (meaning John and the Apostolic Teachings), we have fellowship with the Father and the Son. In v6 he is careful to inform us that we cannot say we are in fellowship with God if we walk in darkness because darkness is living the devil’s lie … living in sin … living like Adam in rebellion … distant from the Truth.
Right here, we find a great challenge to all people who declare they follow Jesus Christ. You either live in the Light or you live in the Dark. You either live according to God’s Truth or you live according to the devil’s lie. Right here, friend, you need to do some spiritual self-examination. You are either in fellowship with God or not in fellowship with God. Now look at verse 7 … “if you walk in the Light” … meaning that if you have fellowship with God, then you have fellowship with His people (we have fellowship with one another) and … please get this … “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”. Jesus’ blood purification from all sin is dependent upon real fellowship with God and with His people. This is the reason I started off by saying how I enjoy true fellowship with the people of God. Our oneness, unity and happiness with each other because of Jesus displays the spiritual reality that we are forgiven and will be forgiven (v7).
Precious Saviour, forgive me for every time I have taken forgiveness for granted without examining my fellowship with You and with Your people. Please help me to live in oneness and unity with my forever family. Cause me to be more loving, gentle, giving, helping and caring when it comes to all followers of Jesus. Amen.