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What is Fellowship?

Devoted to Fellowship

This morning, I found myself reading Acts 2:42-47, and was unexpectedly overwhelmed with conviction.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

Of the things to which the early church was devoted, how many of them am I devoted to in my own life and in our church? Prayer and the apostles teaching - a combination of both the Jewish writings and the teachings of Jesus - seems straightforward enough for me as a pastor, but what does it mean to be devoted to fellowship? What is fellowship?

Fellowship is for followers of Jesus.

On its most basic level, a biblical study of fellowship will reveal that fellowship is a mutually beneficial relationship between two parties. God desires for his body to be more than a community, a club, or a hangout. The imagery that he uses to describe it is far more intimate than that - a family, a marriage, a body. The church is meant to be a family of brothers and sisters who share a core set of ideals and beliefs (Ephesians 2:19-22).

It is for this reason, that the Apostle Paul says that fellowship truly cannot happen outside of the household of faith. Paul describes this tension in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 as he asks the question, “What fellowship does the light have with the darkness?” His point is that as a follower of Christ, you can only have fellowship with other followers of Christ because the mutual thing you share is Jesus. Outside of Jesus, as the most important thing in your life, all else pales.

Fellowship is integrally connected to sharing.

As you read Acts 2, you see that fellowship was closely related to the sharing of possessions. The early church family would sell things in order to provide for one another and the work of God. They would share food, shelter, clothing and more. Although that seems like an awful lot, their sharing went deeper than that.

Even though their fellowship extended to material goods its primary reference must be to the ideas, attitudes, purposes, mission, and activities that the Christians shared. There is no way that they could have been devoted to the Apostle’s teaching without being devoted to these things as well. The fact that the Apostles were teaching regularly, and lives were being changed, implies that the early church was also obeying and following these teachings.

Notice that evangelism is not listed amongst the patterns of behavior that the church was devoted to, yet God was adding to their numbers daily. How? Well, if they were devoted to the teachings of Christ, then they had to be devoted to discipleship and disciple-making - it is inherent.

The point is that fellowship, without rallying around shared ideas, purposes and mission, isn’t really fellowship at all. It diminishes the family of God to a corner bar, to a cafeteria table or to a neighborhood. The shared foundational beliefs and obedience fused the early church together so that they functioned like a single body.

Fellowship is inseparable from growth.

Proverbs 27:17 states, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” The way that iron sharpens iron is by removing pieces of iron. As you sharpen something, you remove the jagged edge and the burr until the exterior is more polished and, then, sharp. Although you cannot necessarily see this with the naked eye, it is very clear under a magnifying lens.

As we spend time in close proximity, sharing life together, we are, by design, meant to sharpen one another. The New Testament says that we are commanded to consider one another, stir up love and good works, exhort one another, bear with one another, and to not neglect meeting together at any cost (Hebrews 10:24-25 and other uncited passages).

The point is this: fellowship has an intentional design. We should be sharing core convictions, sharing the mission of Christ, interacting together as we discuss and obey the teachings of the Word of God, and spurring one another on to deeper levels of faith. If we “hang out” and don’t talk about Christ, don’t think about his mission, and don’t obey his Word together, then we are not fellowshipping at all because that isn’t fellowship.

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What might this look like at Revolve and in your life? Here are a few ideas:

  • Our monthly mission meals (beginning February 2016) are a great time to share a meal with others while learning about and praying for the work of God around the globe.
  • Discipleship Groups provide a platform to develop these relationships. The sky is the limit as to how deep your group goes, how involved you are in one another's lives and how you obey the Word of God together.
  • You taking the initiative to meet with other followers of Jesus regularly.