Summary: The fellowship of the church is critical for our growth. Fellowship is all about relationships, not activity. God is in the fellowship. It is about the meeting of needs.
The moment we come to know Christ, we are connected.
• We are members of God’s household.
• Verse 21: “…the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”
• Verse 22 “you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
This connectedness is critical to the growth of the church.
• Our connectedness guarantees our survival.
• Growth takes place with this connection.
• In order words, we can only grow when we are in fellowship with one another.
This is what the church in Acts showed us.
• The first church – the early Christians DEVOTED themselves to fellowship.
• They just didn’t HAVE fellowship; they devoted themselves to it.
• Fellowship is a priority of the church, and one of the pillars for their growth.
This is the same terminology used by Paul here.
• The church will grow, when members are connected well with one another.
• Therefore fellowship in the body of Christ cannot be an option.
What comes to your mind when you hear of the word “fellowship”?
• What picture do you have? Usually it has to do with a place and time.
• The fellowship hall or room, or the place where we have a good chat and light refreshment.
Fellowship is first and foremost a relationship, rather than an activity.
• So when I say, “I am not going for fellowship today”, I am actually saying, “I am not making time for others.”
• It is more than ‘attending an activity’; it is building a relationship.
• Paul uses the words ‘building up’ here to describe this.
The Christians in Acts did it every day, in their homes. It’s a joy to be together.
• It’s a challenge for us today with our hectic schedule to even make time for our family, not to talk about church friends.
• But the Bible says (Heb 10:25) we are not to give up meeting together, all the more in the last days, because we need to stay encouraged.
FAILURE TO THRIVE SYNDROME
In Romania, and in many Eastern European countries, there are so many orphans being put into institutions that there isn’t enough food or medical supplies or staff members to take care of them.
The babies, often past toddler age, are still kept in diapers and placed in cribs because there’s no other way to take care of them.
They are lifted out to be fed and they infrequently have their diapers changed.
There is no real physical contact with other humans – no cuddling, no holding, hardly touched. They end up in semi-catatonic states (schizophrenia) and often die from a lack of human contact. This condition is called “failure to thrive syndrome.”
This “failure to thrive syndrome” can happen in our spiritual lives.
• But can be avoided and it can be cured.
• Meeting up with other believers in a church is critical for growth.
• Growth can only come in fellowship, and we need that.
• This is the support-system God ordained for our spiritual life, and our life.
There is this saying: “The family that eats together stays together.”
• It is so important to eat together! This is because as we sit around the table together we share not just food, but our lives – tell our joys, our pains, our struggles, we listen to each other, rejoice or cry with each other, and pray for each other.
But the Christian fellowship goes beyond this.
• It is only possible because of our common relationship with Christ.
• Christ is the chief cornerstone. We are becoming a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
God is in the fellowship. True Christian fellowship can only take place IN CHRIST.
• In order words, it is not the same as the gathering we have at school or any other cliques. It is more than just being “a member” of a group.
• And it has nothing to do with organization, or ritual, or format or tradition.
Without this vertical relationship, frankly we cannot have fellowship.
• The Bible says in 2 Cor 6:14 “What fellowship can light have with darkness?”
• Fellowship with one another is therefore irreplaceable.
• No other groups or cliques outside can replace fellowship in the church.
• They are just different. We cannot grow without it.
Recently this word “fellowship” has been popularised by the popular movie based on the book “Lord of the Rings” (an adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkin’s trilogy).
In the first movie, entitled, Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien describes the camaraderie of a diverse group of people who came together around a central purpose.
Called "the fellowship of the ring," their goal is to destroy the power of the Dark Lord that is somehow resident in his ring. The persons in this fellowship are different in many ways, yet they are united in their opposition of the Dark Lord.