When’s the last time you invited someone to come home with you for dinner after a Sunday worship service? I remember my first Sunday in Lompoc, California in 1984. I was a new second lieutenant in the USAF reporting at Vandenberg AFB on Monday. I looked in the yellow pages (yes this was before the internet!) for a place to worship, and was able to find it just a couple blocks off the main street. I first went to the bible study (Sunday School back then). Everyone there made me feel welcome and accepted. A couple of them invited me to sit with them at the worship service. After worship a family invited me to come home with them for lunch. For a young single guy this was an offer I could not refuse. It felt so good to have fellowship with new friends in a strange place.
Fellowship is a great word. It means to share something in common. "Fellowship" or koinonia means "partnership" and even more literally "sharing." Fellowship is not just a potluck dinner or a cup of coffee and sweet roll before worship. Fellowship is the giving and receiving of our lives with one another.
At our church we have an understanding of fellowship. There is a wonderful spirit of love and cooperation in our church. We serve one another. We meet each other’s needs. We pray for each other and encourage each other. We also offer an invitation for others to come and be a part of our family. Fellowship is sharing a common life together, and that common life is Jesus.
Picture with me the grizzled old apostle John. Nearly ninety years old, his eyes are weak. His hands ache from arthritis. Yet his spirit burns brighter than ever. His heart is full of the love of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit comes upon him and he sits down with pen and ink at a crude desk and begins to write a message, a letter. We know this letter in the Bible as 1 John. John’s letter is an invitation: an invitation to fellowship.
John invites us to fellowship, to share a common life. He invites us in v.3 to "have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ." Fellowship is two ways: VERTICAL fellowship with God and HORIZONTAL fellowship with His people.
John says that he wants to have fellowship with his readers because "truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this about our fellowship, “Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. What does this mean? It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ.”
The only true fellowship is what we share in Jesus Christ. A. W. Tozer in THE PURSUIT OF GOD put it this way, "One hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become "unity-conscious" and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship." -
John recorded Jesus’ great high priestly prayer in his gospel, chapter 17. In it Jesus prays, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (Jn.17:20-21). When we have "oneness" with the Lord, we will have "oneness" with each other.
How is your fellowship with God and with His children?