I’ve been thinking a lot about fellowship lately (probably becuase I preached on it this last week – but also because I have been speaking to others about it too). The relationships we have and the authenticness of them, or is it lack-there-in? Part of being made in God’s image means we are relational. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are communal and relational so too did God create us. But why is that so messy and hard? Why does it feel so good and yet why is it also so difficult to have authentic relationships with people?
After God created Adam he realized that Adam needed a partner thus Eve came into the picture (Genesis 2:18). Fellowship was now established on earth. An opportunity to share in life and living now bonded two people into one. Work would be shared, joy would be had, and life would be lived. But fellowship didn’t end with Adam and Eve. Communion and relationships would develop and change as more people inhabited the earth and yet the goal was still the same. Taking two or more people and bringing them together to do “life” would still be the goal. We may live separate lives, we may be going in separate directions but sharing, caring, and loving each other was still needed.
There is a beauty to fellowshipping with others. Building authentic and healthy relationships with someone means all of life is shared. Needs are met by friends and homes are shared. Meals are provided, prayers are lifted up, tears are wiped and life is lived all in the context of “we.” True and authentic fellowship brings an “acquaintance” into a brother or sister. Fellowship reminds us that we are not an island and that I need you and you need me. So if this is how we were created to be then why is it so hard? If our image bearing is fellowship then why can it be so ugly?
Well, just as Adam and Eve showed us PERFECT fellowship it was also through them that it would be broken.
Easily explained, our fellowship is broken because WE are broken. God may call us into fellowship with each other but that doesn’t make it easy. To expect that when two or more people come together that wholeness occurs is ridiculous. Two broken sinners, when combined, do NOT become some mighty fellowshipper that becomes whole and perfect. Two broken people simply become more broken when combined. Now instead of dealing with my life and struggles I am now asked to listen to your life and feel your pain. But the brokenness of fellowship doesn’t end there.
We are proud people and part of having pride means we that I guard and hide my problems from you. We want to portray a perfect life to those outside our home. It’s hard for me to have you know that my spouse has an alcohol problem or that my kids are defiant. If we are addicted to pornography the last thing we want to share is that knowledge because I now fear all eyes are on me. I don’t want the world to know that my wife wants a divorce or that I suffer with depression. My brokenness needs to remain with me. When I share with you I now worry that maybe you shared the key to my dark and hidden closet with someone else. So it becomes hard for us to share our deepest struggles because it forces us to actually trust each other.
We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 that we are to “encourage one another.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 reminds us that we are to seek “good” for our neighbor. Those two pieces of scripture should beg at least two questions. First, how am I to encourage you if I don’t actually know your needs? And second, How am I to seek “good” for you if we don’t actually share the “good” that we need? Fellowship can only happen if I am authentic with you and you with me. Fellowship can only exist when life is shared between two or more people. Encouragement and hope only takes place when trust is placed in the lap of someone else.
Fellowship isn’t about a power struggle or fear. Fellowship is about knowing that I need you and you need me. Fellowship is about living life with someone else. It’s about doing today with someone all the while living in the hope of tomorrow. Fellowship painfully reminds us that so much of my life needs you and your wisdom and presence. When we gather together it should not be about fear or anxiety or hidden closets…it should be about love.
If we were created in God’s image, as fellow fellowshippers, it should remind us that fellowship is where we go. God created his Garden in perfect love and community because that was a perfect representation of who he is and his desire for us. It should be no surprise that our hope is framed and grounded in that same fellowship. Our Triune God is in fellowship with each other – but it doesn’t stop there. Christ died for you and I because of a desire for future fellowship. The Holy Spirit indwells and builds us up and convicts us TO BE in fellowship with one another as well as with the Father and the Son. And all of it, as stated earlier, is about our fellowship to come in the New Heaven and New Earth. Fellowship today is not only needed now but speaks of our perfect fellowship to come – and we need that today. Our brokenness begs for fellowship because we long to be whole. Our sin needs fellowship because it is that very thing that tries to destroy it. It’s ironic how sin tries to destroy fellowship and yet fellowship is the exact healing potion for sin!
Until Christ returns fellowship is still going to be hard. It is still going to take a lot for me to trust you with my needs. I’m still going to be guarded with much of the information I have but it does get easier the more you and I let go and let love.