Fellowship – Our Duty to One Another

July 3, 2006

by Phillip M. Way

Fellowship. A word used to describe churches, meetings, meals, rooms in the church building (the fellowship hall, etc), and an odd assortment of Christian group interactions. But what is fellowship? Technically defined, fellowship is “to share in or with; participate; take an interest in; partner with; be connected; or to share in a common pursuit.” Practically defined fellowship is the way we relate and respond to the people around us in the local church and with believers from other churches.

The truth is that fellowship is part of fulfilling the second greatest commandment. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. And who is more a neighbor than fellow church members? And yet often we do not see or talk to other members of our church except on Sundays and maybe Wednesdays if we attend a mid-week service.

So do we fellowship with one another? Do we understand the magnitude of this duty that God requires of us within His Church? Do we wear ourselves out fulfilling this command? Do we fellowship as we ought?

In order to provide an answer to these searching questions we do need to be sure that we really do know what fellowship is and how it is done. Too often fellowship is just a word that we use to describe being with other believers in a social setting. In this post and several to follow we will study five Scriptural and spiritual foundations to performing our duty to one another in fellowship. Today we will start with the first foundation of fellowship:

The First Foundation of Fellowship:
One Body, Many Members
Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Those of us who are commanded in the Scripture to fellowship with one another are in fact members of the same Body. Jesus is the Head of His Church and we who are the Church are members of His Body. There is one Body, one Head; one Church, one Savior. And as we live and work together in the common pursuits of worshipping and glorifying God we are at the same time required and expected to fellowship with one another.

The first key then to fulfilling our duty in fellowship is that we not think too highly of ourselves! Pride is the root of all sin. Ultimately every thought and act of rebellion against God has started as an act of pride, of the exaltation of self above Almighty God. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Is this not how Satan fell? He wanted to be like the Most High. He wanted to be his own god. And his pride cost him his place before God.

When we fail to view others as the Bible instructs us to view them then we are in reality setting ourselves up as the standard whereby others should be judged. Think about that for a moment. If we fulfill this command of Scripture and if we “esteem all others as better” than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) then we will not be proud. But if we are proud and do think more highly of ourselves than we ought then we will truly be thinking that others are not as good as we are. The result is that we set ourselves up to be the standard. It is as if we say If you are below me then you have failed to be as good, or humble, or spiritual as I am!

We are many members that make up the same body and as such if one member thinks more highly of himself he will detract from the unity of the Body. The example from Scripture given is to think about the chaos that would ensue is a foot decided that it was not part of teh body because it was not a hand. If the foot then stopped cooperating with the hand, we would be in a mess of a situation.

In fact, as we think about this, what happens when a body has parts that do not cooperate, that do not communicate, or that do not function as they were intended to function? Then the whole body is affected. If the members of the body will not communicate with the head then there is paralysis. If the members do not communicate with one another them there is a lack of coordination and control. And if one member attacks another then the whole body as a unit will suffer the consequences.

In order to begin to understand fellowship then it is necessary for us to realise that the world does not revolve around us! It is about Christ. We are but a part of the body. And if we get out of line, fail to cooperate, or attack another part of the body then ultimately the whole body will suffer.

We must move past individualistic thinking and learn to see the Church for what it is – a Living Organism, a Body of which Christ is the Head. The first foundation of fellowship is the foundation of unity and belonging within a body. We are MANY members who compose ONE body.

(to be continued)

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