Summary: Fellowship is more than a few good friends and a casserole dish....
Today we will be concluding our series entitled "You Did That On Purpose." Over the past several weeks we have been examining 5 foundational purposes of the church. As we have seen each of these purposes should be evident in each of our lives as well.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching."
How many of you have ever heard someone say, "I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian..." I see lots of heads nodding with that one. Now out of the folks you’ve heard make those kinds of statements...how many of them are truly living a Christian life that glorifies God? That’s right...it doesn’t work. When I was a young man in my early 20’s I made a statement like that. I had been hurt by a leader in a church and that was my response. Not only did I not live a life glorifying to God...I embraced more and more of the world’s influence with each passing day. I’ll warn you I’m getting ready to step on some toes today, starting right now. Some of you are just what this verse is talking about. You have given up meeting together. I call you fair weather Christians...if the weather is fair...then we might see you here.
I put up this picture for a reason. Even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto!!! God never intended for there to be Lone Ranger Christians roaming the range. Life is to intense for one person to go it alone. It will consume you, destroy you and ultimately spit you out. If that was not the case, no one would be facing financial crisis, relationship turmoils, job troubles, illness, etc....
Now let me ask you...what is your idea of fellowship? If your idea of fellowship involves a casserole dish...you’ve missed the mark. Although social activities and food help create an environment for fellowship...they in and of themselves do not constitute fellowship. Let’s really see what fellowship is all about.
I am going to use this foundation for us today. Fellowship is encouragement. Look at the scripture we just read. "..let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds..." Spur one another on...literally...we are to bring out the best in each other. We are going to examine four forms of encouragement that fellowship brings about. First of all fellowship is the encouragement ot press on. It is the encouragment to get involvled. It is the encouragement to remain faithful. And finally it is the encouragement to focus on Jesus.
The encouragement to press on. Would you all agree that life is a grueling course. Not a leisurely stroll, but an agonizing, challenging, difficult fast paced obstacle course, triathalon and marathon all rolled into one. In life each of us deals with moments of intense pain, moments of hopeless despair and moments of overwhelming doubt. God knew that our natural response would be to quit...to give up. That’s why God gave us his cheering section. Think about any grueling road race you’ve ever watched. There are always people lining the route cheering, encouraging, handing out water, passing out band-aids. These people give the strength and the support to go on. Life is not much different, however, God’s cheering section is made up of other participants. So not only can the cheer and encourage, but they are able to impart their own experience and insight. And in those times when you just can’t take another step...they help carry you. I watched Christopher and Gary run in the River Run a couple of years ago.