What does God expect of us in regard to loving other? Can your efforts make a difference? You can make a difference and a biblical understanding of fellowship can serve as our guide.
How to Love Fellow Members in God’s Church
Can one person make a difference in our congregation?
Can one family make a difference in our congregation… setting an example that inspires others?
The answer is yes!
When a person begins really trying, and making an effort there may be some snags along the way:
- they may feel self-conscious [this isn’t really me, I’m a fake]
- others may put them down or make fun of them [they are just trying to impress people, they just want to impress the ministry, they are trying to exalt themselves]
Also, a person’s enthusiasm might outweigh their wisdom [their efforts may be clumsy]… but if they are trying to please God He looks at their attitude more than on their accomplishments. We are pleasing to god when we are committed to Him, to His Church, and to one another. And to be committed means to be involved.
We all need to change an to grow in the ability to love one another, serve one another, to help and to give. You may not have thought about it this way but all these Godly goals revolve around fellowship.
We are going to talk about what God expects of us. We will see that one person can make a difference. You can make a difference. And a biblical understanding of fellowship will guide us.
1. To have fellowship with one another we must begin with our fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
Definition: fellowship means a community, an association, a group in which we participate. Our place within that group is based on what we share, what we have in common.
1 Corinthians 1:9 1 Corinthians 1:9God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×you have been brought into fellowship with Jesus Christ. We share things in common with Jesus the Messiah. We have a close relationship with Him based on our mutual interest. We also have a family relationship with Him… He is our elder brother.
2 Corinthians 13:14 2 Corinthians 13:14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
American King James Version×we hold to the same convictions through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
There is a particular quality of fellowship we share because of the Holy Spirit
There is a power of love and concern for others that flows into us through the Holy Spirit. Be we have to act upon it.
Because of our common conviction and Spirit, we can understand the trials others go through a bit better. So we share those trials and tests with one another.
1 John 1:1-3 1 John 1:1-3 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×John wrote to the church about his personal experience with Jesus so that they might all have joint participation in the knowledge of all that Christ did, who He really was, and what He taught.
Fellowship with God means we have such understanding in common… we have are to share the outlook and attitudes of God through Christ.
2. We have fellowship with one another
Acts 2:42 Acts 2:42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
American King James Version×fellow-shipping has always been important to the church from the very beginning. Such things as the humble potluck… or perhaps praying with someone about a situation.
1 Corinthians 10:16 1 Corinthians 10:16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
American King James Version×we share the participation in the symbols and signs of God’s process for bringing us into his family. Beginning with Passover all the way through to the last Great Day.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 1 Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take on us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.
6 So that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
7 Therefore, as you abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that you abound in this grace also.
American King James Version×“fellowship” or sharing in taking care of the needs of God’s people. Note that the people asked, “can we be part of this project”? They accomplished this through giving. The Good Works projects we have around the world are just this kind of projects. Where a collection is made to help out God’s sanctified people… back then it was Jerusalem, today it might be Guatemala.
3. God wants us to serve to benefit others
All too often we only serve for a selfish reason, or to impress, or only when it is convenient for us. But serving for the benefit of others will work for our own good… in that, we will grow into a person patterned after Jesus Christ. A person who has the capacity to enjoy eternal life.
Take every opportunity for personal growth through service. You might say, “I don’t have the energy for that”… but this type of personal growth takes effort. Our default setting seems to be to think of ourselves rather than others. God wants to turn that way of thinking around.
When we make that change of orientation and serve within the body we benefit the church, our family, our marriages, and ultimately ourselves.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.
American King James Version×God gives us all certain gifts and wants us to work together harmoniously for the common good. Not comparing our gifts with others and trying to raise ourselves above others or draw attention to ourselves. [read the rest of chapter 12]
Romans 12:3-4 Romans 12:3-4 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
American King James Version×we do not all have the same function. [verse Romans 125-9] Paul then follows with a list of doing…. Because in God’s word love is experienced by doing. [Romans 12:10-13 Romans 12:10-13 10 Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
American King James Version×] Philadelphia, brotherly love, which focuses on our dedication to one another, and by what we do.
Other needs to consider, the sick need caring for, the elderly need company, widows and single parents need assistance. Share with others and share yourself Romans 12:15-16 Romans 12:15-16 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
American King James Version×.
Philippians 2:1-2 Philippians 2:1-2 1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
American King James Version×It sometimes seems it is the same one who volunteers time and time again. We should all help to bear the burdens. Let’s all be on the same page on this… with common cause… fellowship.
4. We are told to visit one another
We tend to think of visiting as a social call. The word here is episkeptomai - means to look in on one another, to check up on, in order to help or benefit, to look after to have a care for, to provide for.
Matthew 25:34-36 Matthew 25:34-36 34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
American King James Version×[expand on what prisons were back then]
James 1:27 James 1:27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
American King James Version×to look in upon the weak members of the body in order to help them, to encourage, and to benefit. There are some logistic concerns that hold us back from doing a better job at this… distance, time. Idea: circle principle – visit with those within a radius of 25 minutes. If everyone were doing so then few people would be neglected.
What about visiting at church services or on Sabbath afternoons? To be friendly, make strangers feel comfortable. Are we trying to benefit and build the church of God? Or, are we merely looking after our own group or circle.
This is a form of visiting but let’s not have it be the only way we practice fellowship. If that’s all we do them we are being weak.
5. We are to practice hospitality among one another
Hospitality means “love of strangers”, “interest in people other than our circle”. Extend yourself, get to know new and different people. Romans 12:13 Romans 12:13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
American King James Version×says “actively seek out opportunities to express interest and love to new and different people” [ diokos , philoxenon ]
1 Peter 4:8-10 1 Peter 4:8-10 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10 As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
American King James Version×use hospitality! It is one of God’s methods for drawing people closer together. It is an active demonstration of Godly love.
What do all these points have in common?
They are the active practice and doing of what you all say you believe. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Maybe you are waiting for someone else to do it. Maybe you’re afraid of feeling fake or put on, maybe you’re worried other will look at you as a goody-goody.
One person, one family can make a huge difference.
Ask yourself: how much of a benefit and it to God? How much of a benefit am I to His church? Am I really taking full advantage of what God is revealing to me?