Summary: Loving one another as we move in relationship from membership to friendship to partnership to kinship.
EMBRACING IN FELLOWSHIP
A pastor was officiating at a funeral. When he was done, he was asked to lead the funeral procession as it made its way to the cemetery. So he got into his car, and he started driving at the head of the funeral procession. He flipped on his radio and became preoccupied, lost in thought; he forgot where he was going. About that time, he passed a Walmart and thought about something he needed to pick up. So he turned into the parking lot. As he was looking for a parking space, he just happened to glance into the rear-view mirror -- and saw a string of cars following, all with their lights on! It is easy to get distracted in life and lose sight of our mission.
We are continuing today with our series getting back to the basics. Last week we talked about our first priority as a church which is worship. Today we want to talk about our second priority. Last week we looked at the first part of this verse, today we are looking at the second:
Matt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
If loving God is our greatest purpose then our second priority is loving people. Jesus says here that these two commandments are connected. When He says the second command is LIKE the first that means similar to it or connected to it. Part of loving God involves loving His family.
Imagine if someone came up to me and said “I really like you Pastor Steve, but I can’t stand your wife!” Do you think I would want to be friends with that person? Part of liking me is liking my wife. We are a package deal! The Apostle John said it in this way:
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Our second priority and purpose individually and as a church is learning to love God’s family. We will be with our spiritual family forever. Our physical family may fall apart but our spiritual family will last forever. God wants us to learn to love one another. The word for loving God’s family is the word FELLOWSHIP. Like the word worship this word is often misunderstood. Many feel that fellowship means casual conversation or eating out together or hanging around after church to talk about sports or the weather. Fellowship simply means loving God’s family.
So how do you learn to love God’s family? What does fellowship really mean? There are four different levels of fellowship:
1. MEMBERSHIP - choosing to belong
The first and most basic level of Fellowship is Membership. This means making the choice to belong. That means you find a church family and you choose to get connected to it.
Eph 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
The Christian life is not just a matter of believing. It is matter of belonging, and belonging is a choice that you make. Fellowship begins with belonging, with making a choice to be in fellowship. God wants you to identify, to make the choice to be a part of His family.
I have heard people say, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to belong to any church.” That just does not make any sense to me. The church is the place where you live out what it means to be a Christian. That is like saying you are a football player but do not want to be a part of any team. It doesn’t work. It is like saying you are a tuba player but do not want to be a part of an orchestra or a bee but don’t want to be a part of a hive or a soldier without a platoon. A Christian without a church family is an orphan. God wants us all to be part of and connected to a family.