As we consider the purpose and meaning of Godly fellowship, a few questions come to mind.
- Should our personal fellowship, the sharing of insights and concerns, be based on the similarity of our belief or a core desire to interact and care for one another?
- Do we need to agree on most things before we can be friends and share our lives?
- Can we intimately share with one another if we do not see eye to eye on primary issues?
To address these questions, let’s look at what Scripture says about fellowship.
Caring Love or Understood Light
One verse often quoted to support the idea that Godly fellowship is based on the light we see comes from Amos (3:3): Can two walk together, except they be agreed? This is an example of taking a verse out of context and misusing it to support an idea. In context, Amos actually states an obvious, “two will not walk together unless they agree to do so.” Without agreeing to walk together, different strides and energy levels bring separation. We ‘agree’ to fellowship.
When we base Godly fellowship on what we believe, we limit fellowship’s maturing value.
When we think Godly fellowship is based on our view of “light” – what we believe, we limit the maturing value we can experience in fellowship. Yes, the Bible does say we fellowship with one another “if” we walk in the light of God (1 John 1:7).
However, John’s small Epistle goes on to say Godly fellowship is based on our love; “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected (matured) in us (1 John 4:7, 12).” When we function as expressions of God’s love for one another, we are able to see light more clearly. Rather than base our fellowship on light or love, we should realize both are involved.
Sharing Our Differences
Contrary to common belief, “likeness” does not produce rich fellowship; richness comes in sharing our differences. This is why opposites tend to attract, they add valuable insights and abilities that we need to become better people.
Marriage is a good example: two people agree and commit to share their obvious and hidden differences, to care for each other in health and in sickness. When we are committed to a loving and caring fellowship, we can be more open and honestly share our differences to help others. We even discover a more balanced way of thinking and believing, which improves our actions.
“Likeness” does not produce rich fellowship; richness comes in sharing our differences.
Jesus promoted fellowship on the basis of loving care for one another.
“…Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11)
How does God love? His love and care for us is unfailing! God illustrated His love for each of us in Jesus Christ, who gave His life to reveal God’s forgiving heart, while we were separated. We can count on His limitless love, which remains even when we run from it. His unwavering love does not even require our acceptance. Actually, God pursues our fellowship. What love!
God’s Way of Agreement
Godly fellowship with each other is based on our mutual agreement to share our differences. When we trust one another with our dissimilarities, we are able to respond and interact to situations, problems, and each other in more heavenly ways.
It is in our fellowships that we experience the Fruit of God’s Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). In fellowship we progressively grow into better vessels of God’s expressive love. (The Christ Culture, chapter 7 elaborates.)
We experience the Fruit of God’s Spirit in our fellowships.
Light IN Loving Fellowship
So, is our fellowship based on the light we see or on our loving care for each other? Maybe we should remove the contrast element of ‘or’ and allow the difference to be a complement; “God’s light shines more brightly in our loving fellowship.” Let’s give Christ opportunity to arise in our midst!
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Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder