Summary: Fellowship between believers is sweet. But there is sour fellowship too. Sweet and sour might be good when it comes to dipping sauce but not when it comes to fellowship. Let’s take a look at the different aspects to sweet and sour fellowship.
SWEET AND SOUR FELLOWSHIP
Talk about picnic; one of two fellowship meals put on by the church-the other being Thanksgiving. It made me think about the subject of fellowship. Fellowship can be very sweet when it’s conducted the right way. But fellowship can also be sour. Sweet and sour might be good when you’re talking about a dipping sauce but not when you’re talking about fellowship. Let’s take a look at the differences between sweet and sour fellowship.
1) Sour fellowship.
• Unequal fellowship.
They say opposites attract. That might be fine when we’re talking about personalities but when it comes to spirituality it’s not okay.
2nd Cor. 6:14-15, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
Paul is not saying have nothing to do with unbelievers. We’re supposed to be ministering to them, loving them and we can even be friends with them. However, there are boundaries to set with them. We should not think that we can be linked together with them because there will be contention when it comes to matters of principle and spirituality. There cannot be sweet fellowship with an unbeliever because we won’t be in agreement in matters of faith. We won’t be able to have harmony when it comes to the bible, the church or spiritual matters. There won’t be unison in the Spirit.
They won’t be looking at things from a spiritual perspective. They won’t be involving Christ or his word into the affairs and decisions of life. So it's like Paul is asking: what do we really have in common with them when what is most important to us is not at all important to them. Now, I don’t think this necessarily applies to someone who is open. But we still have to be careful because until they cross that threshold and become a true convert then there will still be issues of contention and difference. Trying to carry on a spiritually intimate relationship with an unbeliever will turn out to be spiritually sour.
• False fellowship.
1st John 1:1-7, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We 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. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But 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.”
John makes it clear that first and foremost our fellowship is with the Father and with Christ and sequentially with fellow believers like him. But, John needed to make something clear-that there were those who claimed to have genuine fellowship but in reality they did not. Perhaps these were people who thought they were Christians but weren’t because they didn’t truly surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Maybe they were people who liked the idea of salvation but disliked the idea of Lordship.
They could’ve been people who just liked the idea of belonging to the fellowship. They would see Christians interact and they looked happier and more content and they saw the love and generosity so they wanted in. But that is not good because although they might be happy being around Christians they are spiritually still on the outside looking in. They are experiencing an element of the fellowship but not experiencing the full capacity of the fellowship.
Perhaps they are Christians who think they’re tight with Jesus but in reality, since they’re walking in darkness, are not where they think they are. They are deceiving themselves thinking their fellowship is sweet when in fact it is sour.
• Poisonous fellowship.
1st Cor. 5:1-13, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.””