Summary: Issuing from following Christ are some responsibilities...
Whether the relationship is between a parent and a child, between a boy and girl, or between former strangers who now form the body of Christ; there are some things that must be present if the relationship is to be authentic or real. There must be genuine friendship and fellowship.
Perhaps nowhere else can people get away with a certain amount of falseness in relationships, than in the Church? “Spiritual” words and religious platitudes often provide a good cover for falseness, bitterness and uncaring. But there is no substitute for genuine friendship and fellowship.
Paul gives some justifications for the qualities necessary for friendship and fellowship. In other words he tells why it is necessary for each believer to exhibit these qualities.
§ Unity with Christ.
§ Fellowship with His Spirit.
§ Tenderness & Compassion.
The members of the Church in the first three centuries A.D. were closely linked together in Christian Fellowship, but they were not linked together in any federal organization. E.g. The church at Corinth did not lie within the jurisdiction of the Church in Jerusalem.
As members of the body of Christ, what are the demands that have been placed on us regarding fellowship? How can so many different people from various backgrounds with different preferences share genuine comradery and fellowship?
The difference between belonging to the Church (body of Christ) and any other club or service grouping has to do both with motivation (why) and methodology (how). To join a service club you should have a compassionate heart and good intentions towards people - but you could fake that! To be part of the body of Christ you have to be honest. You do not have to come with the good intentions towards people, but you have to admit that that is not there - you can’t fake it. The club demands good people; the Church accepts anybody who knows their true position.
Having come to Christ, though, there is a demand that you have good relationships with your brethren. Then you are presented with the ideal, the motivation and the methodology by which you can have this fellowship - Christ.
§ How do I know what passes as good a relationship - Christ’s relationships.
§ Where do I find the energy or desire to be a good friend - What Christ has done for the love and me he places in my heart.
§ How do I demonstrate fellowship and friendship - Christ-like/Christ-minded.
The relationship that Paul promoted was one of friendship and like-mindedness within the Church. But this is rooted in the broader call for Christians to be CHRIST-MINDED. It means to have the attitude of Christ. What was the attitude of Christ? He had a SERVANT SPIRIT. Juxtaposition of ideas/concepts in the passage make them more striking.
1. Form of GOD - Form of a SERVANT
2. Equality not to be GRASPED - God GAVE him a name
3. Made himself NOTHING - God EXALTED him
What does being “like Christ” mean? What were the features of that relationship? (vs. 2,3)
I. Living Life With The Understanding That Our Attitudes and Actions Should Be Motivated By Service To Others Instead Of Self - Love.
1. The relationship in the early Churches was primarily one of
a. fellowship (koinonia) – meal/love feast.
b. charity (agape) – unconditional regard (hence James’ commentary on the unhealthy regard for the rich over the poor – favouritism).
2. By the 2nd Century, the Church became known as the Catholic/Universal Church - because of their outlook. Not self-serving but missionary minded. Proclamation and Service. Be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice v 8.
3. Two features of their fellowship & charity:
a. Individual and Spontaneous
Wealthier members pool what they had in common.
Barnabas vs. Annanias & Sapphira
b. Cooperate and Organized
Organization of Charity - major activity within the individual Churches.
Spilled over among the rest of Churches e.g. Antioch & Jerusalem (1 Cor 16)
a. Leadership must foster or provide the framework for love to be expressed, BUT
b. b. Each Christian must develop the disposition of heart.
II. Living Life With The Sense That We Belong To Something Bigger Than Ourselves - Unity.
1. “One Don” mentality. Unity does not mean consensus in support of one persons ideas/pronouncements/edicts
2. “Small-mindedness & insularity”. Unity
v lack of exposure – roommate Bill
v come from village & move to metropolis
3. One in spirit and purpose. Unity was not based on mere compliance but on being agreed in spirit and purpose.
Rom. 15:5,6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the Lord and Gather of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
4. Some features of their (early Church) unity: