Summary: Right Fellowship within the chrisian life
In the film The Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo has brought the One Ring to Rivendell, to the Council of Elrond the elf-lord. The Council decides that a Fellowship should accompany Frodo and do all within their power to see that the mission is accomplished. The rest of the film is about that Fellowship on the journey together. Now that is only a film but it speaks a Biblical truth – we were not created to be alone. God never intended for man to be alone and he never intended for His people to be alone. Do you remember the TV programme ‘Thirty Something?’ Did you not wish you had a bunch of friends like that? Friends who shared the joys, the sorrows, the highs and lows of life with you? Why is it that our hearts yearn for such deep relationships with other people? The Bible calls such relationship ‘Fellowship.’ Yet, to be honest, there is no word so misunderstood in the Christian church today as ‘Fellowship.’ Not only is it misunderstood but it is also undervalued. Why? Well I believe the answer is in the fact that too few people have ever experienced a significant enduring fellowship with other believers.
Today, in our society and in our churches, people have acquaintances. There is little intimacy in relationships amongst Christian believers. There is little if any real trust. There is a serious lack of commitment to building fellowship. There is also a lack of loyalty and faithfulness to fellowship with other believers. So this morning in our series on how people grow I want to address the issue of Right Fellowship.
Let me begin by saying that without a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ you cannot have true, Biblical fellowship with anyone else. Christian fellowship is founded on the fact that two or more individuals are one in Christ Jesus. Without Christ they may be friends, they may like each other, they may sing his praise, read his Word but without Christ in their hearts there is no fellowship. So the foundation is Jesus Christ.
Christ Jesus is also our model for fellowship, especially his relationship with his disciples. When we look at the gospels we encounter Jesus eating and drinking with his disciples. We see him walking with them and discussing things with them, Luke 24.13-45.
In Matthew 26.38 we see him sharing the painful experience of Gethsemane with them.
Matthew 13.34-52 he shared insights with his disciples that were not disclosed with others not in that inner circle.
John 13.1-17 we see Christ humbling himself in offering acts of tender care to his disciples. He also challenged them to do as he did so that they might grow spiritually.
John 14 – we encounter him offering his disciples emotional support, repeatedly assuring them that there was no need for fear and demonstrating genuine concern for their welfare.
Luke 19.18-27 he invited and answered their questions.
You see if we read the gospels with a focus on Jesus and his relationship, fellowship with his disciples it becomes a life changing experience. Listen to these words of Jesus from John 15.13-16 Read.
When I look at Jesus’ relationship with his disciples I believe there are five key elements that form the basis of their fellowship.
Look for a moment at Matthew 9.10-13. In this incident Jesus accepts that Matthew is a sinner but it does not stop him loving Matthew. Love in fellowship is grounded in reality. It is not a blind love, it does not ignore sin or the fact that we are fallen human beings. Jesus’ fellowship with his disciples was based on unconditional love. His love for them meant that he was committed to them and to their welfare. His love was given freely and without favour. Let me ask you a question: Do you think Jesus loved Judas Iscariot? I believe he did. I believe that he gave Judas the same love and time that he gave the other disciples. How do I know that? When he speaks of one of them betraying him they could not single anyone out. So love, unconditional love, committed love is a key element in fellowship.
Turn to Mark 8.33 read. Jesus’ desire for Peter’s spiritual growth required honesty. Jesus confronted Peter’s illusion about himself with the truth about him. Jesus could not ignore the things he saw in the disciples – on one occasion he rebukes them for their lack of faith during a storm. On another he rebukes them for the slowness of their minds in understanding. On one occasion he pointed out the reality of Peter’s loyalty – you will deny me thrice.
Fellowship requires honesty with each other and before each other. It challenges our self-perceptions and our self-illusions. You see just as the retina of the human eye has a blind spot so we all have spiritual blind spots. Honesty in fellowship helps us see those blind spots. There are sins I could not or would not possible see in my life without other Christians pointing them out to me. Yet honesty requires support to balance the confrontation. Confrontation without support will never be experienced as love. But support without confrontation is insipid love and will only result in spiritual death.