Summary: God uses the fellowship of other christians to form us into mature Christians
Habits that Lead to Christian Maturity Lent 2002
The need for Maturity:
In Romania, after communism fell, we in the west became aware of the many orphans there who were basically warehoused in huge orphanages. They were vastly understaffed. So the babies, while they had most of their physical needs looked after – food, shelter and some hygiene, were very seldom picked up and snuggled or played with. Many of them had what doctors aptly call “failure to thrive syndrome.” They may have been many months or sometimes even years old, but they still looked and acted like newborns. What they did not have is family. Or even a sort of surrogate family who would encourage growth. Many people in North America saw these helpless children on the news and decided that they would adopt one.
Christians can be the same – we might be born into new life with Jesus, but if we are left on our own, we can have that same “failure to thrive syndrome” in our spiritual lives.
This is why teaches that it is so important to be adopted into a fully functioning body of believers. Paul,says in Ephesians 4 verse 14,
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”
There was never meant to be any “Lone-Ranger” Christians.
This is how the new Christian community is described in Acts 2: (p.772) 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
They describe the new Christians as “those added to their number”, not new converts, not even individual Christians, but new members of this family, this body.
This is what John says in 1 John 1:3,6-7
3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. …6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
He doesn’t say, “We are telling you these things so that you can know Jesus like we do,” he says “we are telling you these things so that you can be part of this community that knows Jesus.”
The early Christians could not even conceive of a Christian outside of a Christian community.
“They devoted themselves to the fellowship.”
What is fellowship?
If You we trying to get your definition of fellowship based on the way that the word is used in most churches today, you would think that it has a great deal to do with drinking coffee and eating deserts.
I happen to think that coffee and desert are great tools to lead to fellowship, but it is much deeper than that.
Mel Lawrenz gives this definition of the Greek word “koinonia” that is often translated “fellowship.” “the Greek term koinonia is rendered in English translations in various passages as “fellowship,” “participation,” “sharing,” “partnership,” and “communion.” Elements of koinonia, such as sharing material goods, sharing in ministry, and being partners in the gospel, are rooted in the spiritual reality of a connection between believers that is based on their connection to Christ.”
We can get the meaning of fellowship by looking at the behavior of the early church. In Acts 2
They were witnesses to signs and wonders together - verse 43 – they had the same spiritual history.
To have true fellowship, we need to share Spiritual experiences together. When we have spiritual experiences on our own, or when we witness signs and wonders on our own, it is easy to start to wonder if what we experienced was real and was really God, but when we witness these things together, it builds our faith, and we are able to grow mature together.
They shared their material possessions together. – verse 44-45 our caring and sharing must go beyond nice words and prayers it must go into our pocketbooks