Few things are more inviting on a cold winter’s night than basking in the warmth of a cozy fire. There’s something most captivating, something romantic about watching flames dance over a stack of crackling, red-hot logs.
But if you’ve ever built one, you know that it takes skill to kindle a few pieces of wood into a roaring fire. And experience also shows that once ignited, an untended blaze soon dies down and, finally, dies out.
Of Fires and Fellowship
Like a warm cozy fire in our home, few things create a more pleasant ambiance among God’s people than a congregation where close fellowship is taking place.
How many of us recall the many evenings we enjoyed in the homes of brethren when we were first started meeting. We shared the stories of our callings, our backgrounds and our fervent hope for God’s kingdom. As a result, so many of us drew very close as brothers and sisters should.
But it’s easy to forget that good fellowship, like a well-tended fire, takes work. It doesn’t just happen. Building the strong bonds of friendship among people takes time and effort. Yet, so many just go and put in their time at church and then leave. Sadly, too many of us are strangers to one another.
How about you? Do you find fellowshipping enjoyable? Are you satisfied with your conversations? Do you and those you talk with feel uplifted, better off for having been together? Do you feel close to anyone in your congregation? Or is your fellowshipping merely an matter of shaking hands, talking about the weather or just saying hello. If this is the case, then are you really deriving and giving the most benefits you can during the time you spend with those you call your spiritual brothers and sisters?
Take Time To Get To Know Others
It may seem all too obvious, but fellowshipping, like building any relationship, necessitates interaction. In order to have a relationship with God, we have to get to know Him. We do so by spending time with our Father in heaven. Likewise, if we are to have a relationship with our brethren, we need to spend time getting to know them.
The bonds of brother and sisterhood that were built in the Apostolic Church of God sprang from the fellowship of those who often shared trials together like Paul and Silas (Acts 16: 19-34), those who like Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2 Romans 16:1-2  I commend to you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
 That you receive her in the Lord, as becomes saints, and that you assist her in whatever business she has need of you: for she has been a succorer of many, and of myself also.
American King James Version×) and Lydia (Acts 16: 14-15) gave of their substance; or Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16: 3-4) who risked their lives for Paul, their brother in Christ. The bonds they built were strong and necessary to prepare them for the trials they had to undergo as individuals and as a collective body of fellow believers. We need those same close bonds today.
A Building Fitly Framed
God brought us together as a Church to be a dwelling place of His Holy Spirit—a building, as the King James Version renders it, “fitly framed together,” (Ephesians 2:21-22 Ephesians 2:21-22  In whom all the building fitly framed together grows to an holy temple in the Lord:
 In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
American King James Version×). If we survey our congregation, can we say it is a solid building? Or are there some areas that need mending?
Paul used the analogy of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 1 Corinthians 12:14-31  For the body is not one member, but many.
 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
 But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him.
 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
 And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
 No, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
 For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked.
 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.
 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a more excellent way.
American King James Version×. Noting in verses 21-23 “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’…On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor.” In verse 26 he said that “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Paul left no one out. All are important. This holds true for our fellowship. Our fellowship should include all of our brethren. Young, old, married or single. No matter what socio-economic group, sex , race or background—we are all brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
God says he is a “Father of the fatherless and protector of the widows,” (Psalms 68:5-6 Psalms 68:5-6  A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
 God sets the solitary in families: he brings out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
American King James Version×). We ought to be careful not to overlook the singles, widows (spiritual or otherwise) and fatherless among us as well.
Finally, in James 2: 1-10 we read a strong condemnation of those who show partiality to those who have wealth or social status over those who are poor among their brethren. But perhaps just as important as who we do not overlook in our fellowship is what we fellowship about.
Good Fuel For Fellowship
A good, long-lasting fire depends on what kind of wood we use to fuel the flames. If we build a fire with pine it won’t last nearly as long as a fire made with a denser wood such as oak or pecan. Likewise, the results of our fellowship have a lot to do with what we talk about.
In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul urged his brethren to keep their minds focused: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Philippians 4: 8).
Conversation that uplifts, builds and elevates is often sorely lacking in our day-to-day lives. Even among our brethren, we often find ourselves more focused on our woes than the One who can deliver us from those troubles. But fellowship that centers on binding wounds, opportunities for heartfelt intercessory prayer and comforting those who may be down or lonely not only dispels the air of cynicism that so permeates our modern-day societies, it refocuses all concerned on the hope that lies within each of us.
This doesn’t mean we can’t discuss the weather, our jobs, our favorite sports team or anything of that nature. But sometimes, these subjects are all we seem to find to talk about.
Godly fellowship also avoids judging and judgmental attitudes. James exhorted his brethren to “do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12 James 4:11-12  Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.
 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who are you that judge another?
American King James Version×).
Yes, we may be excited about the latest movie, who won the Super Bowl or World Cup, but we ought not forget that our fellowship should build bonds, uplift our spirits and turn our minds and hearts again to God’s purpose for us as individuals, as a Church and for all humankind.
The Lone Log
One interesting aspect about minding a fire is observing how a once blazing log will slowly start to smolder and die out if it rolls apart from the others. Yet if we stack it on or push it back with the others, it soon burst back into flames. The logs’ collective heat is once more concentrated and their potential is once again released.
Like logs that concentrate their heat to produce a warming flame, when brethren are together, we produce a spiritual flame.
It reminds us of what Christ said in Matthew 18: 20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Like logs that concentrate their heat to produce a warming flame, when brethren are together, we produce a spiritual flame.
But if we do not attend services, if we fail to fellowship with our spiritual brothers and sisters, we are not contributing to that spiritual flame. Paul reminds us in Hebrews 10: 23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Yet some of us withdraw from the fellowship of Christ. Like that lone log that rolls away from the stack of wood, some of us lose our bright flame, smolder and die. It is not only the lone log that loses, however. All those who might be able to enjoy the special gifts that each of us bring into the fellowship of the Church also suffer loss.
Rekindling the Flame
Let’s rededicate outselves to rekindling the fires of our faithfulness to God’s word, His way of life and to our fellowship with our brethren. Let’s truly get to know one another, pray for one another’s welfare and uplift those who need our concern. And together, we can build a flame that will be “the light of the world. A city set on a hill,” for a world that desperately needs the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ and soon coming Kingdom of God.