Monday, October 1, 2007

Fellowshiping Together

This week during our worship services, we had a crash course in relationships. We learned about the things that destroy relationships and how, instead of destroying our relationships, we can build them up! I don't think I ever used the word, but what we were really talking about was fellowship.

One of the best definitions of fellowship I ever heard is "two fellows in the same ship." When you're in the same ship with someone, you have a common direction, a common destination, a common vehicle to get you there, and you share a common fate. Ideally, if you're in the same ship, you're pulling together, working together, communicating, and probably having fun doing it as you build your relationship with one another.

So often we drain the word fellowship of its meaning by limiting it to potluck dinners and coffee in the lobby. Real fellowship can happen during those times, but most of the time it doesn't. Those interactions tend to be surface-y and unremarkable. But real fellowship is anything but unremarkable!! Most of the time, true fellowship occurs outside of the church building, on a day other than Sunday, as we share our lives with one another--discussing our personal thoughts and feelings, sharing our fears and hopes, carrying each other's burdens, encouraging, supporting, praying for each other, and helping each other.

Fellowship happens in the context of strong relationships, characterized by unselfishness, humility, love, and forgiveness.

So, let me ask you, do you have fellowship with anyone? Is there anyone else you've revealed yourself to, anyone you've shared your innermost thoughts and feelings with? Is there anyone you've cried with, prayed together with, and shared life with? Is there anyone you'd lay everything on the line for?

If not, you're missing out on one of the reasons you were created. This is the kind of deep, fulfilling, satisfying, purposeful relationship that should characterize a church body. We can't have that kind of deep relationship with every single person in the church, but every single person in the church should have that kind of deep relationship with somebody.

And this is the kind of relationship that the world is dying for! Do you remember the memory verse from week 1? "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" (John 13:35). Our relationships are THE central aspect of our faith. It's not our knowledge, not our deeds, not our gifts, not our accomplishments, not our words that matter to God; it's how much we love other people.

"If I speak the languages of men and of angels but don't have any love, I've become a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. Even if I speak God's Word and know every kind of hidden truth and have every kind of knowledge, even if I have all the faith to move mountains but don't have any love, I'm nothing. Even if I give away all I have to feed the hungry and give up my body but only to boast and don't have any love, it doesn't help me" (1 Cor. 13: 1-4).

Are you ready to love? It's the only thing that matters.

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