Summary: The purpose of this message is to challenge you to develop deeper relationships within the church and in effect enhance your own personal relationship with God.

Humor: Years ago, Leslie Flynn penned a book called, Great Church Fights. In it he chronicled the way people in different churches would go after each other – all in the name of Jesus Christ. A young father heard a commotion out in his backyard; he looked outside and saw his daughter and several playmates in a heated quarrel. When he intervened, his daughter called back, “Dad, we’re just playing church!”

Fellowship helps you face life’s problems by providing the support and encouragement of other Christians. The church is meant to be a place where we experience in depth relationships and life long friendships are developed.

The purpose of this message is to challenge you to develop deeper relationships within the church and in effect enhance your own personal relationship with God. These relationships don’t just end here on earth when they are in Christ they are eternal.

Last week we talked about the Crowd, and the Committed this week I want to look at the Core or the inner circle, Peter, James and John.

How many times in the Bible does it tell us to do things alone as Christians? The Bible is full of one another commands.

God created family so we could have relationships that become intimate so we could enjoy one another’s company and companionship. Have you ever noticed in the wild how they have swarms of bees, flocks of birds and herds of buffalos? In Dallas they have High Occupancy Vehicles lanes that get you there faster because your not slowed down by individual vehicles driven by individual people. On the Highway to heaven God wants you to travel in a High Occupancy Vehicle. When traveling in the HOV lane you pass up most of the jams you would have gotten into alone. The same is true when you’re a part of a healthy fellowship.

There are many analogies for a Christian disconnected from a church: a football player without a team; a soldier without a platoon; a tuba player without an orchestra; a sheep without a flock. But the most understandable (and biblical) picture is that of a child without a family.

Today we have a record number of single adults in America. Vance Packard calls America “ a nation of strangers. As a result we’re experiencing an epidemic of loneliness in society. One Gallup poll reported that four in ten Americans admit to frequent feelings of “intense loneliness.” Americans are, in fact, the loneliest people in the world.

Everywhere you look there are signs that people are hungering for fellowship, community, and a sense of family. Beer commercials, for instance, don’t sell beer, they sell fellowship. No one is ever portrayed drinking alone; it’s always done in the context of people enjoying each other’s company. Phrases accompany the commercials like: “it doesn’t get any better than this!” Advertisers have discovered that independent-minded baby boomers are suddenly longing to be connected as they enter middle age.

Illustration: Claria Knall a young mother from Oklahoma writes it was one of the worst days of my life. The washing machine broke down, the telephone wouldn’t stop ringing my head ached and the mailman brought a bill I had no money to pay. Almost at the breaking point I lifted my one year old into the high chair, leaned my head against the tray and began to cry. Without a word my son took his pacifier out of his mouth and stuck it into mine.

From the time were born we know people need love and need to be cared for and the church ought to be a place where the deepest love and the deepest caring for each other is real.

John 13:34-35

34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

1. Healthy Christian fellowship meets our need for reinforcement.

Sometimes when you’re out in the world with your convictions you can get to feeling like you’re all alone. Like you’re the only one who doesn’t cheat, steal and lie. Your kids say everybody else is going to the party or to see this movie. It’s so encouraging when you fellowship with someone who shares your commitments.

Hebrews 10:25 drives this thought home, that we need to spur one another on towards good works.

Eccl 4:9-10

9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10If one falls down,

his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

2. Healthy fellowship meets our needs for accountability.

The world can be a very tempting place. We never get so spiritually mature that we don’t need the gentle rebuke or reminder of a Christian friend. Paul had to rebuke Simon Peter because he was falling back into legalism.

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