Within The Fellowship
Fellowship ‑ what does it mean? Our English word is translated from a little family of the Greek words, and the one most familiar to us is ‑ koinonia It is an idea common in Greek society in the first century relative to a partnership including marriage. Since the Christian Church began on the day of Pentecost a fellowship has existed among the followers of Jesus that has no parallel. This is made clear in the New Testament by Paul, Peter and John that this fellowship is unique because it is sharing in Christ which in turn joins us to the Father (Phil.3.10; 1 John 1.3,6,7). The idyllic conditions in the Early Church have their first mention in Acts 2.42 and are described in Acts 4.32 37). Allowing the human, worldly spirit to enter the Church that fellowship is shattered.
William Barclay in "New Testament Words" writes "In the Christian life there is a koinonia which means 'a sharing of friendship' and an abiding in the company of others" (2 Cor.6.14). It is very interesting to note that that friendship is based on common Christian knowledge (1 John 1.3). Only those who are friends with Christ can really be friends with each other.
'The Expository Dictionary' (W.E.Vine) has the following entry for "koinonia ‑ (a) communion, fellowship, sharing in common (from koinos common) is translated 'communion' in 1 Cor.10.16; Philemon 6 (RV) 'fellowship', for AV a communication (AV). It is most frequently translated "fellowship"; (b) that which is the outcome of fellowship, a contribution eg.Rom.15.26; 2 Cor.8.4." Fellowship, as a loving fellowship, is practical and seeing a brother or sister in need, goes to their aid.
The basis of our fellowship is our relationship to our Father in Heaven and with His son Jesus Christ. It is the knowledge of Him, the way He does things and the way He treats people, that gives us a sound basis for our fellowship in the Church. We do not belong to a 'club' that has been formed for doing certain things and which has a common body of academic knowledge. We are part of a family that will involve a common life style and set of ethics. What we do and say will arise out of that family relationship and not be the goal of it. We do not belong to a 'society' that meets together to promote certain ideals or body of knowledge. We belong to a family and are bound by ties of love with the goal of doing our Father's will and working towards the restoration of everyone and everything in all Creation.
We must never be responsible for saying and doing anything that hinders the experience of fellowship with God or man or anything in all His creation? The oneness that exists between the Father and the Son must exist throughout Creation. As part of their family we must promote that oneness in everything we say and do.
It follows that the fellowship we have in Christ is the most important aspect of life in the Church. The extent to which we enter into that fellowship will be the extent of our progress in the Christian way. It is clear from the New Testament ‑ from the life of Jesus and from Paul's message to Corinth, that division within the Church, rupture of relationship between brothers and sisters in Christ is painful to our Father, as quarrelling within a human family is painful to loving parents. Disassociating ourselves from brothers and sisters in Christ is a very serious matter and must certainly cause us to ask the questions, is this the Lord's will ‑ is this the really loving thing to do? Or is division just the result of my own sinful, impatient human nature?
"God has called us into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor.1.9). That fellowship is enshrined in the words of Jesus about our oneness with Him and with the Father, in John 14 17. That fellowship is the only way by which we are being changed into His likeness and by which we can become acceptable to Him. No amount of "service for the truth" and no amount of clear doctrinal understanding can achieve that likeness. That fellowship with Him is impaired if the relationship with our brethren in Christ is not kept sound and active.
Let us walk in fellowship with the Lord and His people.