Fellowship with One Another 5

Philippians 2:1-4

Like any family we have our little squabbles between the five of us, and it is not at all uncommon for our children to fight among themselves. But for the most part we all get along quite well. And some of the happiest times are those times when we all work together for a common goal and common purpose. As a parent it is also a joyful thing to see our children taking part in some ministry, sacrificing time and effort to help others.

My image of God is influenced and shaped tremendously by my role as a parent. I imagine that God is delighted when we are all of one mind and one purpose, especially when that purpose is to do good.

In his letter to the church at Philippi Paul talks about the kind of attitude faithful believers should have. What would make Paul’s joy complete (verse 2)? What attitudes should we already have (verse 1)? What are his instructions in verses 4 and 5?

If we are members of the body of Christ, if we are part of a church or worship community, then the attributes listed in the first verse should apply to us. We should be encouraged through our unity in Christ. We should find comfort in God’s love. We should be in fellowship with the Spirit.

And if we have all those things then we should be like-minded. All of us in the body of Christ should be working toward the same purposes of love, compassion and mercy. And we should be not only like-minded with one another, we should be of the same mind as Christ himself.

If we who are united in the body of Christ can achieve these things and also look to the interest of others, then we can bring others into fellowship with us and with Jesus. And if we can bring others into fellowship with Christ, then they too will find encouragement in unity with Christ. They too will find comfort in love. And they will find fellowship not only with us, and not only with Jesus, but with the Spirit as well.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you look to the interest of others in the spirit of Christian fellowship?

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Romans 12:15-16

Groucho Marx is credited with the humorous observation, “I wouldn’t join a club that would have someone like me as a member.” We often hope to be better off than we are, hope to improve our social standing, hope to widen our sphere of influence and authority. And then, if it does happen, we sometimes look down on those who are where we were.

The same can be true in our spiritual walk. Is there any among us who does not need forgiveness? Is there any among us who does not need the mercy of Christ? No, not one.

Yet there are so many who have entered into a relationship with Christ and then look down on those who have not found it yet, or are struggling with their own salvation.

In his letter to the Romans Paul offers instruction on how to have fellowship with one another. What are we to do according to verse 15? What should be our attitude according to verse 16?

Fellowship is more than just spending time with other people. It involves the quality of time spent. Simply being in the presence of another person will not develop the kind of fellowship we are called to as Christians. Rather, we are to share our ups and downs, our dreams, our hopes, and our fears with one another.

We are to rejoice when our Christian brothers and sisters have a reason to rejoice. We should not be envious or resentful for their success and happiness. We are to mourn with those who mourn, sharing their sorrows. We should not keep our distance and hope for the best, but we should be willing to truly empathize with their sadness and spend time grieving with them.

This is true fellowship.

Finally, we are not to be proud, but willing to associate with people of low positions. And I believe this is talking about more than job level and income. We who have received salvation should be willing to associate with those who have not been saved so that we might be there to help them find that essential relationship with Jesus. Having fellowship with one another means sharing the journey of faith.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your attitude toward those who are not saved? Does it need to change?

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1 Peter 4:9-10

I have been inside almost every home of every member of our churches. I have been given meals at some homes. I have been welcomed in others to sit and have a drink and spend time in conversation. In other houses my visits are brief, but their hospitality is sent to me in the form of encouraging cards or gifts.

I believe it is an important part of being a Christian that we connect with one another. I don’t want to make myself to be a pest by intruding in other people’s lives, and I don’t want my home invaded every day. But it is good to spend time in fellowship, and visitors are always welcome at our house.

We should not exist in isolation. It is not good to remove yourself from contact with others. We need to make connections with one another to share the love of Christ with the body of Christ.

In today’s passage from 1 Peter it is pretty clear what we are supposed to do. What are we to do? What should be our attitude? What else are we told to do?

Peter is very blunt here. Offer hospitality. Welcome other people into your home. And more than that, do it without grumbling. Be glad that you are able to welcome others into your home. Be happy about the fellowship you can share with others.

And if you do not feel that you are the best of hosts, then extend your hospitality outward by doing good things for others. Be outwardly hospitable with your talents and gifts. Express God’s grace through good deeds and kind acts. Serve others with your talent and do it faithfully.

This is an important part of being in the family of faith under Christ. First we must accept one another in the love of Christ, working toward unity under God, the Father. Then we need to have fellowship with one another, sharing time and talents together, spurring one another on with encouragement, love and hope.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How often are you hospitable with your Christian brothers and sisters? Do you need to initiate a time of getting together?

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Hebrews 10:23-25

In my job as a consultant I once had to go to Lexington, Kentucky for most of a week. I thought it was terrible. The hotel seemed cheap. There was nothing to do. I was unhappy.

A few days into the job my wife came down and joined me. She pointed out how nice the hotel was. She showed me places to visit while in town. The business trip which had started so badly suddenly became kind of fun. What was different? I wasn’t alone any more.

Living a life of faith and trying to get along in the world sometimes can feel like a battle, a contest where you are the one pushed and pulled in this direction and that. And it can seem as if we are each on our own, alone in this conflict.

But we are not alone. Not only has Jesus promised to be with us in all things, we are part of a family of faith who is also on our side.

What does the author of Hebrews encourage in verse 23? What is encouraged in verse 24? Verse 25?

While it is true that an individual can worship the Lord in the privacy of his or her own home, and it is true that a person does not need to be part of a larger church to make that connection with God, there is something to be said of worshiping with others. God calls us to be in fellowship with one another. I believe God is pleased with all forms of worship, but I also believe there are times when God desires worship that comes from a larger family of faith.

By being part of a larger group which gathers to learn and worship, we can find enrichment, encouragement and guidance. We can find a fuller faith, a deeper relationship in Christ when we are part of a larger group which worships.

It is easier to hold unswervingly to our hope when we are surrounded by others who are also hopeful. It is easier to show love and do good deeds when we are encouraged by our brothers and sisters in faith. Let us encourage one another and meet together in Christian fellowship as often as we can.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Are you part of a regular time of worship? Can you help others attend more frequently?

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Ephesians 5:19-20

This Sunday I asked the congregation if they could tell me why we were meeting together. One of the first answers was, “so we can make it through the rest of the week.”

While I was hoping for someone to say that we come to church to worship God, the answer we heard was equally valid. Having fellowship in worship, coming together as one, in one place, to praise God and receive instruction in our faith equips us to face the world.

The primary reason for worship is to give our adoration, thanks and praise to our heavenly Father. But we are also supposed to have fellowship with one another. It is essential that the body of Christ come together on occasion to be reminded that we are indeed the body of Christ.

What does this letter to the church at Ephesus encourage believers to do? How can you make music in your heart?

These two brief lines give us an abundance of instruction for times of fellowship with one another. They teach us that we should sing songs of praise to one another and with one another. Our times of fellowship, of being in the presence of those we love as brothers and sisters in Christ, should put a song of love and joy in our hearts.

Our times together can strengthen our spirits. Our time in fellowship with one another can allow us to set down our burdens, share our sorrows and joys together, and face life with a renewed attitude of happiness in Christ. We can be filled up in worship so that we can go out into the cold, bitter world wrapped in love – love from God and love from those who share our faith.

We may claim that we cannot sing; therefore the instruction to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” does not apply. But the word used is “speak.” Even if we can’t carry a tune in a bucket we can say the words of faith and encouragement to each other. We can build one another up in our times of fellowship so that all are strengthened to go out into life.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you put a song to the Lord in the heart of another?