Teleios and other authors have shown Christian belief actually can improve personal wellbeing! Therefore, we are examining the Christian life in more detail to see if we can uncover in the Bible some of the underlying causes of the improved wellbeing.
We are now discussing the practice of Christianity for which we are using Acts 2:42-47 as a basis. These interesting verses describe the activities involved in the Christian walk within the early church. They are repeated throughout the Epistles. I call them the ‘5 tools to maturity’ and can most easily be summarized as: prayer, praise, fellowship, outreach and Bible study.
Last week we discussed prayer. Today’s tool for consideration is fellowship.
Definition – The biblical word ‘fellowship’ is most closely expressed in the Greek by the word koinōnia (κοινωνία), and its derivatives, which mean basically ‘communion’ as well as the word metochē (μετοχή) which means ‘participation.’
What does the Bible say about fellowship? – The Bible describes fellowship in the most general ways:
· It occurs only between Christians – This is because we cannot be encouraged or learn from those who do not have the Spirit or who do not understand the Christian faith (1 John 1:6-10, 2 Corinthians6:14)
· Do not neglect – We are not to avoid fellowship. This is because it is good for us. It is also good for other people to see God working in us. Please see below (Hebrews 10:15-18, 13:15)
· Functional definition – In reality, the Bible does not give a lot of detail, or a singular text, defining ‘fellowship’. However, functionally any interaction between Christians that is spiritually based, as described in the Bible, is fellowship (Colossians 3:12-17, Ephesians5:15-20).
Why do we need fellowship? – The benefits of fellowship are assumed in Scripture. As Christians, we need the example, as well as the verbal encouragement and reminders of God’s word from others, to help promote our own walk with God (1 Timothy4:12-16). Likewise, our actions and speech provide this to other believers.
It is our fellowship with the Holy Spirit that provides the strength of character, understanding and knowledge to encourage other believers (Philippians 2:1, 2 Corinthians 13:14)
What fellowship is not – One benefit we derive from church is social fellowship around food, games, sports, parties, etc. However, these events may not include true fellowship which should have a spiritual basis.
Think about it! – Careful in your own life that you provide not only a lifestyle that is encouraging (1 Thessalonians 2:10), but speech that helps others (Ephesians 4:29). How do we do this? Here are some ideas:
Know God’s word – This is important so you are speaking to others correct biblical truth and not church based jargon such as ‘That is not my gift’ or ‘God will open a door.’
Plan ahead – Consider before meeting with a person how you might encourage them specifically with: gratitude, commendation, thought provoking questions, sharing God’s word or recounting what God has done in your own life (Colossians 1:3-7, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7, 1 Timothy4:16). If you don’t know what to ask them go to their social media accounts and learn about them. If you are attending a gathering, then choose one person to target with whom to fellowship.
Listen – Be sure and listen when conversing so you can learn and discover how you can even better encourage them (James 1:19).
Thank you for joining me today. Enjoy your opportunities for Christian fellowship! Come back next week and we’ll discuss Bible study, the fourth of the 5 tools to maturity.
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