Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Warmth of Fellowship

     Growing up in farm country, I always looked forward to Sunday gatherings.  After attending church service, we would go out to lunch with my grandparents to a local restaurant to enjoy family fellowship. At other times, we would travel to the small community of Holgate, Ohio where my mother had grown up to visit relatives.  Of course, the most happy times were family reunions when many of the cousins would come and visit.  These were times of warm fellowship.
     Unfortunately, today, most families live separated from one another by many miles.  The Internet, television, cell phones and other electronic gadgets make the world seem smaller, but they are not the same as being together.  There is something special about sitting around a table and discussing the Lord or having a chance to pray for one another.  Not only is it stimulating, but it also is biblical.
     In talking about the church and believers, the Lord, Himself, stated "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."  When we think of church, we think of a building, a large congregation, and perhaps the worship service itself.  Yet, in the context of this verse, Jesus is saying that even when two or three are together gathered for fellowship and prayer, He is there among them.  This is the value of relationships in Christ.  We were never meant to be off by ourselves in isolation.  We not only need to be in Christ, but we also need one another.
     Hebrews 10:24-25 admonishes believers to come together for the purpose of edification:  "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."  Looking at the times in which we live, can any of us say we don't need to stick together or encourage one another?  Truly, the Day of the Lord is drawing near.  We do not know when, but we need to find ways to build each other up in Christ.
     When my husband and I came to the Lord through Campus Crusade for Christ, we went to a Bible study at the student union so we could learn more about the decision we had made.  During one of the meetings the leader gave the illustration of a camp fire in relation to our growth.  He said that when all the logs were together the fire burned brightly.  However, if a log was removed and put over to one side, it eventually went out.  He pointed out that in order to grow in our faith we needed regular fellowship to keep the fire of the Spirit burning.  There was strength, blessing and power when we met around the Word of God.  I have never forgotten that example, and our family has always sought ways to find time to worship both in church as well as with other Christians even in relaxed settings.
     A friend of ours gave us a sign once that said "Christ is the head of this home, the unseen Host at every meal".  It is good to remember this because fellowship is something that takes place every day both in the work place and in our homes.  Wouldn't it make a difference if we remembered that where two or three believers are gathered the Lord is there?  It might change our conversation and how we behave.
     There is deep warmth in Christian fellowship and in corporate worship.  To miss out on it is to deny ourselves the blessings that only the Body of Christ can provide.  As Paul pointed out in his letter to the Corinthian Church, one part of the body cannot say it does not need another.  We need all the parts in order to have the ability to function as Christ has commanded (I Cor. 12:19-26).  In the context of fellowship we find people who can cry with us or laugh with us.  We sharpen each other and encourage one another.  All of these things happen when believers come together.
     People today do not spend time together like they used to do.  No more Sunday afternoon drives to visit relatives and play games.  Instead, most of us boot up the computer and talk to friends on Facebook.  However, there is no substitute for the real thing.  Jesus knew that and encouraged us to spend time with one another.  He promised to be there in the middle of it when we prayed and studied His Word together.  How could we want to miss out on that?  Therefore, if we get an invitation to join in a small group, a church service or a home fellowship time, we should be quick to say yes!  It is our opportunity to keep our hearts burning for Christ just like the log on a campfire. Even more, we can encourage others in their growth as well.  Selah!

How has fellowship been a blessing for you?  Do you make every time you gather with fellow believers a time to encourage one another?  I welcome your thoughts here.  I hope you will take time to comment.

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