Summary: Parallels the idea of the Fellowship of the Ring with the fellowship of believers who walk together
Introduction: Big events - New production of the Fellowship of the Ring. JRR Tolkein-Oxford scholar; contemporary and friend of C.S. Lewis. Created a fantasy world. Fellowship of the Ring - a group of 9 diverse individuals, four races united in a common cause. A deeper fellowship pictured in the Word of God.
Ref. - Phil. 2:19-30
Six Common Traits of the Fellowship of the Cross:
1. Common Thinking - urged in verse v.2 -- likeminded.
a. Illustrated first in Christ - v. 6-8; One commentator: Christ is both center and circumference to Paul.
b. Illustrated in 19-22 by Timothy - in essence, Timothy is seeking the things of the Lord, not his own interests.
c. For Paul with Timothy, likemindedness has reached the point where they are as father and son.
Being likeminded does not mean that we are cookie cutouts or mindless robots, but knowing the principles of the word and the character of Christ we reason out the issues of life in the same way.
2. Common heritage - v. 25 "brother".
a. Begun by our new relationship with Christ
b. Term of relationship used by the early church - Acts 9:17
Affects our treatment of others. Mature in the faith recognize that those in the faith may not have maturity. If Christ has come into someone’s life, they are a brother or sister – even if they deny that you are part of the family. Wise older brothers love mistaken younger brothers even in rejection.
3. Common Task - Fellow worker - 6 times in NT all by Paul: Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Philemon - for Paul, it was more than just the general inclusion of all Christians. This was one who had labored beside Paul in the work.
4. Common warfare - "fellow soldiers" - only once more: Phil. v. 2 "Archippus, our fellow soldier". (Lady in car dealer-vending machines made her remember her friend ) Paul’s circumstances: Under house arrest, soldier lightly chained to him. No longer is planning on Spain (Rm. 15: 24,28) -- now plans on returning to visit his churches. (Mark Hatfield)
5. Common sacrifice - " Name: Ephaphroditus means "charming". Take care: perform the service of a priest. Paul explained (Phil. 2:30) why the saints should receive Epaphroditus. This messenger from Philippi was so sick he almost died. It was while he was serving Christ that he became sick, and if he had died it would also have been for Christ. (Risking life: Carol)
6. Overarching commonality: a common faith. 3:8-9
Real faith is the renouncing of all that we consider to have value in favor of the one thing of real value: righteousness that comes from God through faith.