Fellowship

“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also,” we read in 1 John 1:3-7, “that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (NASB)
John seems to believe that fellowship is an important thing. But what is fellowship?  Who has it?  How do we get it?  What can it do for us?
“Fellowship” is usually the translation for the Greek word “koinonia.”  (In a few passages the word is translated “contribution,” “sharing” or “participation.”)  The language of the New Testament is koine Greek, because it is the language of the common people.  Fellowship, then, refers to something shared in common.  It involves communion and communication.  The words “partner” and “partaker” are used in association with fellowship.  Fellowship is a partnership, a holding in common.
Notice in the passage from 1 John that there are two kinds of fellowship.  There is horizontal fellowship (with each other) and vertical fellowship (with God).  Notice also that the two kinds of fellowship are intertwined.  Most of us understand that there can be no true Christian fellowship between two people unless both have the proper fellowship with God.  But we must not miss the point that fellowship with the divine assumes fellowship with each other.
Most of us realize too that fellowship with God results from obedience to the Gospel.  But do we understand the relationship between salvation and fellowship with each other?  Those who obey Peter’s instruction on Pentecost enter into fellowship with God (Acts 2:41).  One of the first manifestations of this is fellowship among Christians (Acts 2:42-46).
Fellowship is what allows us to strengthen and encourage one another.  We cannot fulfill the law of Christ unless we bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  And we cannot bear one another’s burdens unless we know what is going on in each other’s lives.  We cannot rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) unless we know what is going on in each other’s lives.  Can we really pray for one other (James 5:16) if we don’t know what is going on in each other’s lives?

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