I operate an on line Christian Fellowship group and recently sent this to its members-
We call ourselves - Christian Fellowship. What are God’s instructions
to us in Fellowshipping ?
We can certainly get a good start by paying attention to Romans 12
Romans was written by the Apostle Paul approx. 58 or 59 A.D. It was one of Paul’s 13 letters to be found in the Bible, and that is a remarkable thing in itself, in that with somewhere over 300 billion people in the world that the Lord should see fit to include 13 of Paul’s letters in his instructions to you - the Holy Bible. He is also often credited with having written Hebrews.
Romans is said by many to be one of Paul’s most systematically written letters, and in it he writes from Corinth where he was on his third missionary trip, amongst other things outlining a number of ethical exhortations in preperation for his upcoming trip to Rome and in essence summarizing his teachings.
Paul (Saul was his Hebrew name) had lived in Jersusalem at about the same time as Jesus, but there is no evidance that he knew Jesus during that period.
We know that Paul ( Saul) was converted from one of the most notorious enemies of the Christian faith by a direct appearance of the resurrected Jesus. Knocking him off his horse during a trip to Damascus where he was about his business of killing Christians, and Christ clearly and vehamently chastised him "Why do you persecute me". Christ’s appearance and questioning led to Paul’s immediate conversion.
Rather powerful and quick conversion wasn’t it ? It was such a dramatic complete turn around that we might liken it to Hitler suddenly joining the Christian Coalition. Certainly not the type of conversion we would expect, but further more proof that when the Lord chooses to get your attention He will do it. Likewise an example that He often uses the most unlikely of prospects to further his work. Do we not all then have hope that He may then work though us, no matter how unworthy we might think ourselves ?
Paul later went on to become one of Christiandom’s greatest banner carriers, and dedicated his life to spreading the Word of Christ. It has been said that he was second only to Christ in his effect on mankind, he believed enough in the cause to die a martyr’s death like 11 of the twelve Apostles.
I think that when we speak of Fellowshipping we might closely heed his words.
Lets start with Paul’s words in Romans 12:9-21
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Can any of us argue with those exhortations ? I certainly would hope not as they mirror the teachings of Paul’s benefactor Jesus Christ. How many of us can truely say we abhor evil and cling to what is good ? Remembering of course to hate the evil and not the doer. How many can claim to not lag in diligence or in truely putting aside our own agendas and serving the Lord, or even that most basic of exhortations to continue steadfast in prayer ? Knowing full well that we are to proceed in all things thru prayer first- all decisions, each days undertakings and certainly when dealing with any problems.There is no doubt much work to be done here.
He further notes -
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Again mirroring Jesus who even in his agony on the cross exhorts the heavenly father to "Forgive them for they know not what they do". How much easier would it have been with the blood of his scourgings running down his face and wracked by the agony of crusifiction to curse those who had put him on that cross, would not any man seem justified it doing so, and instead of forgiving bringing down the wrath of God’s avenging angels ? He has written to you this most important lesson on forgiveness in his own blood. Dare you ignor it ?
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
We find again in his exhortations he echoes the principals set forth by his beloved Jesus. All serious and difficult guidelines in the way we are to lead our Christian lives.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," F62 says the Lord. 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." F63 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Here Paul clearly shows us that vengence again belongs only to the Lord. If it is His - dare we seek it - clearly we had better not. We know that we are instead to be forgiving. Not only is it an exhortation but we clearly know that if we do not, that we are not to gain forgiveness ourselves. Mathew 6:14-15 14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
If for no other reasons then commit yourselves to forgiveness as without it you earn none of God’s forgiveness and we all know how much we need that.
I am hopeful that, you will find helpful, this short study in those things that are key to our Fellowship. Although I am sure they should make us all aware that there are great and lofty expectations here. Our course has been set here by the Apostle Paul, a masterful navigator, using not the stars but the teachings of he who made them. Let us not dispair but set our ships on a proper course believing in his exhortaions and knowing full well that they are the learned advice that our own true Lord and his servant Paul has set before us.
I diligantly hope that we are worthy to say that we truely Fellowship and do so with like minded Christians for we can see by our obligations that we need be aware that there are many things of which we must be mindful.
† Yours in Christ †
Cocoa Beach, Florida