B – FELLOWSHIP – 2
In considering the importance of fellowship with God, Christ, Holy Spirit, and each other, the thought comes to mind that we cannot fellowship with just anyone. Remember, fellowship is not just being together at times; it is sharing and participating in a common interest or goal. Therein lies the difference of fellowship with a Christian brother or sister and befriending a neighbor in the sense of anyone outside of Christ. Otherwise, we could not spread the gospel to win souls to Christ or sense needs to minister to others. The common expression, “We are in the world but not of the world” is very true. Jhn.17:15,16
What are some of the dangers of fellowship with the wrong people? We cannot share and participate with unbelievers. It is important that we befriend them, pray for them, minister unto their needs; however, we cannot share and participate in a common interest that is spiritual or with a spiritual goal. 2 Cor.6:14,15 This Scripture is often used with regard to marriage but it is also true of intimate friendships. A common interest may be experienced in something of the world that is not objectionable in the sight of the Lord. A common interest might be in sports, crafts, etc. This common interest could be used to become a trustworthy friend and so be able to be a testimony for the gospel. Not to be forgotten is the fact that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit and of God. 2 Cor.6:16,17 Our belief and standards of living that would please our Lord must forever come first. It doesn’t take much leaven of Satan to encompass the whole loaf or life. 1 Cor.5:6
To fellowship with the immoral would indeed be dangerous. This could easily lead us back into our past life of sin. Eph.5:3,4 We can be deceived and led astray. Eph.6:11 Although speaking of anger, the idea brought forth in Eph.4:27 is important to remember. We can give the devil a foothold in our associations if we aren’t careful. We may think we are strong but here is a warning to us. 1 Cor.10:12 Perhaps this is the reason many go two by two. One Christian strengthens the other for we know that bad company can change us with constant association. 1 Cor.15:33 If we befriend an immoral person to win them, we cannot be partakers with them. Eph.5:5-7 The following poem is so true. “Sin is a monster of frightful mein;/ To be hated, needs only to be seen,/ But seen too often, familiar with its face,/ Is first to pity, then endure, then embrace.”
Another person or group that is dangerous to fellowship would be those that are following a man-made religion. A lot of very good people have been deceived by man-made religions that have departed from the Bible plan, both of salvation and organization of the church which is the body of Christ. Gal.1:6-8 Through the centuries man had considered his own ideas as good as God’s commandments. Consequently, many groups of worship have been and still are being formed without consideration of the plan of Christ for His church. Matt.16:18 What if you hired contractors to build a house and they followed their own plan instead of yours? You would not be happy. 1 Cor.3:11 We may have friends in these groups but our sharing and participation is with those in the church that Christ built. Eph.4:14 In making an altar for God the Israelites were to use no tool in building it or it would profane that altar. Ex.20:25 Human ideas are used to profane the church which belongs to Christ. It is His body and He is the head. Col.1:24; Eph.1:22,23
As we fellowship with the family of God, many hindrances occur. One of these is the lack of forbearance. We look at others and find so many faults in them. We grumble and complain that it should be done this way or that way. Could we do better? We must think so. What are we doing? Could it be that we are sitting by to watch. We always have our binoculars at hand ready to find some fault. Eph.4:2,3 We want others to look over our faults and help us. We are all imperfect. How sincere and deep is our love and tolerance for our brother in Christ? Do we really love one another and want that bond of peace? Jhn.13:35 Our love and togetherness is a witness to the world.
Too often our pride gets in the way of true fellowship. We set ourselves on a pedestal and look down at others. We are all equal in the sight of God. Rom.2:11 We have nothing that we were not given. 1 Cor.4:6,7 Pride is not a virtue. We may have the ability to do something that someone else can’t do. They may have gifts that we do not possess. Pride is sin. We can be deceived that we do not have pride. That is a deception of Satan. Ps.31:18 Pride causes us to find fault and complain. We are not to quarrel in our fellowship with one another. 2 Tim.2:23 Proverbs tell us that pride produces quarrels. Prov.13:10
Another hindrance to fellowship is the lack of forgiveness. We all make mistakes as we are all sinners. Rom.3:23 Our salvation is not based on what we have done but on the forgiveness we received as we were born again and continue to receive as Christians. Our forgiveness continues as we forgive others. Matt.6:14,15; Col.3:13 “I’ll forgive them but I won’t forget.” Is that real forgiveness? If we keep remembering, our fellowship is wrecked. This is not the way of God. Here are some Scriptures that relate the full forgiveness of God. Mic.7:19 hurled into the sea Jer.31:34 remember no more Ps.103:12 as far as east is from west...removed sins.
Gossip, covetousness, envy and many more hindrances could be named. May our fellowship remain sweet and deep as we remember these things. Our fellowship affects the work for the Lord which is of first importance. As we love one another, may we follow 1 Cor.15:58.