Fellowship with God
In our first article, we asked how we could live with God. In our second and fourth articles, we explored and understood the brokenness of this world. We discussed living with God and inviting others to this life. In this article, we want to discuss the concept of fellowship with God. Fellowship is a principle most abused in many churches as a whip used against the people who most need to associate with others.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.Eph 3:14-21 (ESV)
We have already established that God dwells with us but what are the deeper implications of this for us?
Two Classes of People
John establishes in his first epistle that God is light and in Him is no darkness. (1 Jn 1:5) He goes further by extending this to us. We belong in one of two classes, Light or Darkness. Fellowship (Koinonia) with God is a state of walking in the light. This confers fellowship between people who walk in the light. This in some degree accords with Vine’s definition of Agapeo which we will discuss in another article.
God’s love for us creates in us a love for Him and a love for others who receive His love. This is a special relationship conferred by God alone.
Of the seven billion people living on this earth, God has selected you to be, not His children (all humans are His children), but to be the sons of God. This is a special title bestowed on the Elect. (Gen 6:2, Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Job 38:7, Hos 1:10, Matt 5:9, Jn 1:12, Rom 8:14 & 19, Rom 9:26, Php 2:15 and 1Jn 3:1-2)
A Basis of Fellowship
You are therefore called to a special relationship with God that is fellowship with God. By virtue of this fellowship with God, you have fellowship with each other. Fellowship (in a scriptural sense – koinonia) is not something that you may bestow or remove from another. This is an enormous conceit that as a body we have taken on ourselves and must cease. We have no right to “fellowship” or “disfellowship” another.
We have taken upon ourselves the title of Ecclesia or Church for each of our small gatherings. Yes, God acknowledges that small groups have called themselves Churches or Ecclesias (note especially Revelation 1-3). God also acknowledges a number of other things in Scripture that were not used as originally intended.
Let’s illustrate this. Most of the Patriarchs in Scripture had multiple wives. From the beginning, God intended that there be one man one woman as husband and wife. God acknowledges this, but does not appear to condone it.
In Acts 8, there is reference to persecution falling on the Ecclesia in Jerusalem. Was this the Jerusalem Ecclesia (as some maintain)? Was it that portion of the One Ecclesia that was located in Jerusalem? In Acts 9, we can infer from verse 31 that the ecclesia was one ecclesia throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria. It is in Acts 15 that the word Ecclesias appears in the plural for the first time.
Nevertheless, Paul writing to Timothy in 1 Tim 3:14-15 explains that there is one household of faith,
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Ecclesia of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”1 Tim 3:14-15 (ESV)
There is one assembly of spiritual Israelites, the collective chosen people of God. They have fellowship with God.
It is so dreadful that today our tribalism has led us to such a convoluted relationship between the one body of Christ in its various locations globally. For much of the latter part of last century, there were divisions in churches of the same denomination for the most part based on differing views on the Atonement. These views were so nuanced that for most people, the differences could barely be understood.
Without digging deeply into these divisions, it is important to understand that for better or for worse, there is only one ecclesia, and only two classes of people. There are those who walk in Light and those who walk in Darkness.
Walking in the Light, Walking in Darkness
We seek to walk in the Light. We have fellowship with those who walk in Light and we seek to convert those who walk in Darkness.
This means that regardless of the “congregation” that someone attends, this person is our brother or sister and we have a responsibility to care for and support them regardless of affiliation. The second epistle of John of course regulates interpersonal behaviour in some respects, as does Matthew 18 and we will deal with this later. I have also dealt with this in detail in two other articles: Does it matter what you believe? and How to Love Church.
The fruits of those who walk in the Light are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23 (ESV) comp verses 19-21 for the fruits of Darkness)
In John 15, Jesus tells us that we can’t bear fruit without him, so we must dwell in him and him in us so that we might bring forth fruit. (Jn 15:4-7)
A Heart Connection
We therefore form a heart connection with God and Jesus that allows us to bring forth Godly fruit to light a broken world. Our heart connection to God means that we are not members of this tribe or that. Connectedness to God is independent of other affiliations for we are members of the Household of Faith, the Ecclesia of God and the Body of Christ.
Our relationship is with God first through His son Jesus Christ and by virtue of this fact, we have a relationship with others who share the love of God.
Together we strive to bring about the will and purpose of God in a broken world.