Summary: Some important characteristics of great and effective relationships in the Church.
Some Important Characteristics of Great and Effective Relationships in the Church
July 11, 2010
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: Over these next few months we’re going to take a Sunday once in a while and cover one of the five purposes of the church, which we have listed on the wall over here.
In a couple weeks we’re going to look at the issue of worship, and we’ll look at the others between now and Thanksgiving.
But today we’re going to look at fellowship.
I was very fortunate in that when I first came to Christ, I had a bunch of fellow college students who were ready to help me get established in my relationship with Christ.
They helped me learn how to pray, read and study the Bible, find a good church, and all sorts of things.
But one of the best things they taught me was the value of having good Christian friends who cared for me, and who would stick with me through thick and thin.
We: Relationships are part of who we are as humans.
For better or worse, we all have relationships that help shape who we are.
When it comes to our spiritual health and development, relationships with other believers is paramount.
Many of you here can point to the blessings you have gained through the relationships you’ve had with other Christians.
The fun, the laughter, the learning, sometimes in the sharing of hurt and even shame for some reason or another.
God had placed other Christians in our lives to help encourage us and support us in our efforts to live for Jesus.
Fellowship is what we call being around other Christians for the sake of mutual benefit.
God: Fellowship is one of those things that a lot of people have different definitions for, and I can pretty much guarantee that what I share with you will fall short of some of your definitions and maybe surpass some others.
My purpose isn’t to give an exhaustive discussion about what fellowship is all about and what it’s not.
My purpose is to give us a handle on some things that can help us strengthen our relationships in this church and in the overall Church of God around the world.
The passage that kept coming to mind as I was working through and praying about this message was Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) –
23Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
This is a great passage about fellowship, and I think we can learn three things in particular about fellowship from it.
Three facts from this passage about fellowship:
> It’s based on mutual faith in Christ. (v. 23)
Christian fellowship, by definition, can only happen between Christians – people who have put their trust in Jesus.
You can (and should) have relationships and friendships with those who don’t yet love Jesus.
However, Christian fellowship is not possible, because fellowship in any context has the sense of going in the same direction.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Fellowship is two people being yoked together by their common faith in Christ.
If two people are yoked together who are not believers, it doesn’t work, because one is living for Christ and one isn’t – they are going in opposite directions spiritually, and therefore cannot have the kind of relationship that fellowship brings.
Does that make sense?
Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have non-Christian friends. I hope you do. But fellowship, by its very definition can’t happen between a Christian and a non-Christian.
Now let me talk a little bit more about the “mutual-ness” that brings good fellowship.
When I asked some pastors what they thought of when they thought of fellowship, one of them said, “It’s getting two fellows in the same ship!”
I thought he was being smart-alecky, but then I realized what he was saying – that you need to be united in destination – in this case, following and living for Christ.
Wanting to help each other reach the destination of spiritual maturity.
That doesn’t have to mean you agree on everything, though.
I have some pastor friends in an e-mail group who will quote Amos 3:3 from the King James Version –
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Usually these same guys say that you have to agree on things like what’s the “right” Bible translation or you can’t have fellowship, because you don’t agree on what that is.