WHAT IS FELLOWSHIP ?
Definition:- Fellowship is relationship with those of like mind, sharing the same interests and experiences, having the same purpose. God expressed man’s need for fellowship in Genesis 2:18: “it is not good that man should be alone”. He created man for relationship, firstly with Himself and then with each other.
When you gave your life to Jesus you came into relationship with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so you have fellowship with them. Jesus prayed that – just as He and the Father are one – so His followers would be one with each other. He wants us united (John 17). This means relationship and relationship necessitates fellowship. Also we want to be together because where we gather – Jesus is there with us (Matthew 18:20).
The early church showed us how: they met together every day to fellowship, to share, to be taught, to partake of communion and to worship. (Acts 2:42-47). They lived in a hostile environment and knew how important it was to stay in constant contact with one another and experience that deep level of relationship.
THE BLESSINGS OF FELLOWSHIP
Jesus said that all who receive Him make up His body. He is the head and each believer is part of that body with different gifts, callings and functions. A body doesn’t function properly with missing parts – His body needs all the parts to be in the right place so it functions properly. You are part of His body and so need to spend time with the other parts. (See also The Body of Christ under You Belong)
Hebrews 10: 24 – 25 says “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another…”. It is essential for you to gather together with other believers to build each other up and to encourage one another. Fellowshipping together helps you bear other’s burdens (Galatians 6.2), supporting another when they are struggling or going through hard situations. Paul says sharing your faith, your testimonies, your experiences with each other, will encourage everyone (Romans 1.12). In fellowship you get to partner with each other in the ministries God has called you into (Philippians 1.5), as you pray for and support each other – so that no one feels they stand alone in their ministry and walk with God.
Healing can come out of fellowship: “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). So you are accountable to your brothers and sisters and they are to encourage you to overcome in areas you struggle. It is “walking in the light” (1 John 1.7) before God and before each other, in a transparency that brings freedom and wholeness.
Proverbs 27.17 says “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”. God uses fellowship to rub your rough edges off and to push your buttons – exposing areas of your life that need dealing with – so He can grow you into the image of Jesus. Peter says – “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2.5). Stones have to be chipped and chiselled away in order to be fitted alongside one another. That hurts! But it achieves God’s purpose in knitting all His children together into one spiritual house. He uses those He places alongside you as His tools.
We see the importance of fellowship from a fire: coals all burning together make a great blaze. But remove one coal from the fire and it will burn out and go cold. Christians need each other to keep their eyes focussed on Jesus, to keep their hearts on fire, and to keep them on the right track. Alone, it is easy to be deceived, follow false teaching, get complacent and lukewarm. Ecclesiastes 4.9-12 says “two are better than one…for if they fall one will lift up his fellow…and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him…” Fellowship is for your benefit, for blessing, for protection and for victory over the enemy.
THE JOY AND WITNESS OF FELLOWSHIP
Fellowship, this walking in unity and love with one another, brings joy to Jesus. Paul said it completed his joy when he saw the believers united. (Philippians 2.2), and how much more does it satisfy Jesus when He sees His prayer – that His disciples would live in unity and in love – answered. “I in them, and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent Me and love them even as You loved Me”. (John 17.23). There is a goal beyond all the benefits received from fellowship with one another, and that is the witness of the church to the world. It is a manifestation of His love that will bring others to hunger for Him.
Love one another as I have loved you. By this all will know you are My disciples!
JESUS in John 13:34-35
Your primary fellowship focus must always be fellowship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Prioritize this time -(see Spending Time under You Are Loved) – for all other relationships flow out of your relationship and fellowship with God.
Hopefully you are part of a local church congregation and enjoying fellowship there. While being together with everyone is a great blessing – it is really helpful to be part of a smaller more intimate group – like a mid-week Bible study group where you get to share more personally, get to know each other better, directly encourage one another, study together, pray and intercede.
Another good option is to have a couple of fellow believers form an accountability group – where you meet informally – share blessings and struggles – and where you can be totally transparent and hold each other accountable to growing in your walk with the Lord.
Dealing With People Who ‘Push Your Buttons’
When you find there is someone who ‘pushes your buttons’, there are 2 very important things to do. Firstly do not allow offense, bitterness or resentment to that person take hold in you. Secondly you need to understand the reason why this person ‘pushes your buttons’. When this happens step back and reflect. Ask God to show you what is in you that is reacting to this person. This is part of- iron sharpens iron – you just read in the text above.
God uses this person to trigger something in you that He wants you to deal with and to heal permanently. Usually it is that this person has a habit or treats you like someone in your past – eg a parent, teacher etc – that you are still holding unforgiveness towards or a judgment against. When you release forgiveness to the one God has identified to you or repented of the judgments you have wrongly held – you experience freedom and you will find that person no longer ‘presses your buttons’ and your relationship with them is healed.