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Summary: The function of fellowship is to be a better member of God’s family.

This morning we continue toward the conclusion of our series on God’s vision for us, “A fully following and faithfully functioning church.” We spent the month of January looking at the lives of 10 Biblical characters and how they illustrate what it means to fully follow God. And we have spent the past 6 weeks studying the five primary functions or purposes of the church. We will conclude this series in two weeks with the opportunity to respond to this vision.

Someone recently told me in a half-jesting and half-serious way that I have too many sports illustrations. I thought, “Well I’ll try to broaden the illustrations so that it won’t be that way.” Then, I looked at the working title of today’s sermon, which has become the bulletin title, and thought, “Well maybe next week!”

I asked this past week in another e-mail sermon survey, “Name the first sports team that comes to your mind.” This is what you said: (They are listed alphabetically and be nice as you hear the teams called off!)

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bulls

Chicago Cubs

Denver Broncos

Florida Gators

Green Bay Packers

Indiana Pacers (2)

Indianapolis Colts

Kentucky Wildcats

Miami Dolphins

Purdue Boilermakers(2)

At first glance, today’s title might seem a bit shallow. A lot of people seem to “play” at and with life and not really take it seriously in appropriate ways. Now, there is a place for “play” in our lives, but can we “play for” God?

When I looked up the word play in a dictionary I came across a couple of interesting definitions: 1.”An effort to arouse liking.” 2.”To behave in a specified way.”

Let’s think about this for a moment. When we play a game or sport, we are expected to behave in a specified way. A baseball player is expected to play like a baseball player not a football player or a soccer player. The same holds true for musician in a band or an orchestra. And they are also to play with passion in order to arouse support for their team and their sports or work.

I also spent sometime looking up the word “for.” To be “for” something is to be in support of it. So, could we not combine these two word definitions and translate the sermon title something to the effect of “Making an effort to live for God in a specified and enthusiastic way?”

Last week we looked at the second of five important functions of the church – outreach. Outreach is an important function of the church. A church that does not continuously reach out to the unchurched will begin to decline and eventually die.

On the other hand, a church that exclusively focuses on outreach to the exclusion of the other functions – service, discipleship, fellowship, and worship – creates congregations that can lack the necessary spiritual nutrients required to have both fully following and faithfully functioning members as well as a fully following and faithfully functioning congregation. In other words, there is more to our faith that just being saved. I believe that it is Glenn Wagner, pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina who says, “We’ve got to do more than get the people into the kingdom. We’ve got to the kingdom into people.”

Now before we examine Colossians 3, we need to understand what fellowship is. I asked this past week for a response to the question, “What is the purpose of church fellowship?” This is what some of us said:

to get to know and learn from one another

to come together for one purpose

to build up each other in Christ

to be team players

to fulfill our place in God, family, church

to hang out with fellow Christians

to have fun in a Christian environment

to develop and strengthen the bonds of Christian friendship

to pray and be accountable to one another

to get to know everyone

to encourage one another through fun times

to nurture and encourage one another

Thanks for sharing and let’s keep these thoughts in mind. And let me also suggest that the purpose of fellowship is to help people live for God.

Fellowship is a critical element in the kingdom of God. It is an important spiritual nutrient.

One definition of fellowship is the “condition of friendly relationships existing among persons.” Rick Warren says, “You were formed for God’s family.”

Now, we all know that life with others is not 100% wonderful. There are stress and strains. But, it is God’s purpose that as His people, the church, we live well and live well together in Him. But just exactly how do we do that? Paul gives us some very important suggestion in our text for this morning, Colossians 3:1 – 16.

Good fellowship, the kind that helps us not just be converts to Christ but disciples of Christ involves, among other things, three important aspects of our lives: character, commitment, and conduct. Paul addresses all three in this segment of scripture.

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