If you’ve been keeping up with these devotionals, then you know that last week one of the women from our church was murdered. It has been a difficult few days for our church and community, but as we’ve walked through this tragedy, I’ve been reminded of how thankful I am for the fellowship of other believers.
Now, I know as soon as I say that I create confusion for some of you because Christians tend to throw the word “fellowship” around quite a bit, and so it’s hard to know what we mean by it. For example, we encourage folks to “fellowship” after church - meaning stand around after church and talk to each other. But a lot of churches also have a room called “Fellowship Hall”, which they often use for Bible studies and meetings - but not hanging around after church to talk. So two different uses, with two different meanings, but the same word. And those examples are only two of the many ways we use the word “fellowship” - which is why it’s not always clear what people mean when they talk about “fellowship” with believers.
The good news is, the Bible helps us navigate through the confusion - and one of the places it does that is in Acts 2:42, which says, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” The original Greek word used for “fellowship” in this passage is “koinonia” - and it was a word that carried with it the meaning of “generous partnership”. So what this helps us understand is that God’s idea of “fellowship” isn’t limited to just getting together and socializing - His idea of fellowship is about us creating generous partnerships with each other.
The reality is, anyone can socialize. Anyone can get together around shared interests and passions. But the “fellowship” that the Bible calls us to is not that kind of social interaction. Instead, it’s about people of different backgrounds and interests and places in life partnering together around their shared love for God. So “fellowship” is praying together, serving together, and worshipping together. It’s about grieving together, rejoicing together, and going through life together. And it’s this type of fellowship that’s been such a blessing and encouragement to me as we grieve the loss of our friend.
But of course, this is also a really hard type of fellowship to build, because it requires us to invest in the people around us. And that requires us to set aside our selfishness and focus on others and what their needs are. So it's no wonder that too many of us are willing to settle for our "fellowship" being simply gathering in the same building on Sunday morning with other Christians who are just like us. But God calls us to more than that. And He does so because He wants us to have strong, deep, authentic relationships that will help sustain us through the many ups and downs of life, and help us understand who He is through the diversity, perspective, and giftedness of His other children. This fellowship strengthens us as individuals, and at the same time, strengthens His church.
So today, let’s ask God to help us take our “fellowship” to the level He wants it to be. Let’s ask Him to help us truly partner with the believers He’s brought into our lives so that we will be encouraged - and so that His church will be strengthened.