Summary: This is a sermon that stresses how important it is to have a deep fellowship within the congregation and the greater church body.
May 1, 2005 Psalm 133:1
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
A Minister’s Prayer for God’s Church: LORD, Help Us to Walk Together
I. As an individual church
When we were at the Seminary one of my professors told us to “beware of the loners” - the fellow ministers who didn’t like to hang out with other ministers. Why did he say that? Because it’s not natural for Christians to shun fellow Christians - especially ones that are proclaiming the same faith - supposed to be on the same team.
This is true in a local sense as well. There was once a pastor who had a young member who didn’t want anyone to bother her. He was called to the home, where she had the shades drawn and laid in bed. Whenever her parents or anyone came near her, she yelled at them and told them to get out. This was over thirty years ago, before they knew about mental illness. But when the pastor got there, he knew right away, something was not mentally right with the girl - so they got her help. He knew something wasn’t right. If a Christian person doesn’t like fellowship - doesn’t like to be around other Christians - it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something mentally wrong. But if they want to be alone, there’s almost always got to be some sort of an emotional, physical or spiritual problem involved - either with the individual or the group as a whole.
Consider the Scriptures. When Jesus raised from the dead, Mary Magdalene was one of the first women to come to the tomb that morning. She thought someone had stolen his body from the tomb. I can’t imagine the overwhelming sense of joy when Jesus reached through her tears with the simple name, “Mary.” In response, Mary must have given Jesus a big old bear hug, and just wouldn’t let go, because Jesus had to literally say to her, “don’t keep clinging to me.” She didn’t want to let go. That story really gets to me. She wanted Jesus to remain on earth with her forever. Who can blame her? God has created us to be in fellowship with Him - to serve Him day and night in His temple as we gaze at His beauty. That’s why we enjoy listening to the Word of God and taking the Lord’s Supper. It makes us closer to God. That’s also why we look forward to dying - at least somewhat. We are naturally drawn to our Creator and Redeemer - to have fellowship with Him.
God isn’t the only Person we desire to have fellowship with. In a perfect creation, God still said of Adam in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The writer of Ecclesiasties also wrote in 4:10-11, “Woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?” People need the fellowship of other people. This is even more true on a spiritual level. You can see this intense desire for fellowship even in the strongest of believers. When Elijah had to run from Queen Jezebel, fearing for his life, he said to God in 1 Kings 19:14, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” As God came to talk to Elijah, he still felt deserted and alone - like he was the only believer left in Israel - and he desired more. This sense for fellowship was also desired in Paul. He wrote to Paul in 2 Timothy 1:4 “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.” Even these pillars of faith loved to have people to walk with in the faith. They longed for it.
Why did they long for it? Paul wrote to the Romans in1:11-12, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” A purpose of Christian fellowship is primarily for the mutual encouragement of faith. Paul also wrote to the Ephesians that, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)