Today we are finishing up an exhortation series on what we are calling “habits of grace”. We have covered Bible Study and Prayer. Today we are going to talk about Fellowship.
What is fellowship? It’s an association of persons with something in common. Oftentimes a fellowship could be like a partnership, such as a business partnership. There is a pact or a handshake of commitment one to another.
For Christians, fellowship is the association of people who have a common belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a coming together of people to be together with Jesus at the center. And since it is Jesus that binds this group of people together, the people in and of themselves can be and most likely will be different in many ways. But the common connection is faith in Jesus.
At Cities Church we have Community Groups and Life Groups. This is a place to come together and have this fellowship.
The important piece of fellowship to acknowledge is the coming together and being together. Simply put, if you are going to have fellowship, if you are going to have a Community Group and life group, then you need to participate and connect and be together with other persons who are following Jesus. To put it another way, we need to show up in order to be together and have fellowship. If we neglect to show up then we can’t have fellowship, we can’t be together.
As James Taylor once said “I can’t thank you enough for showing up. It’s not the same without you.” This is so true. We want everyone to show up to Community Group and Life Group. If you don’t show up, the community that does show up is not the same without you. The community group isn’t the same without you. Everyone is essential at group and we want everyone at group. It’s not the same without you.
In the Bible there are a lot of passages that talk about being together. Just search “one another”. I’d like to look at 3. Beneath these is the observation that in order to do them you need to participate.
FIRST, comfort one another. If you aren’t together, you can’t comfort one another. And lets be honest, we all need comfort. We are struggling with anxieties and pressures of the world. The world doesn’t seem to care to comfort us. Yet in Christ we have the means and resources to comfort one another, and it is a wonderful gift to be comforted by another person.
2 Corinthians 13:11 says “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
How do we get peace? We all want it in our anxious hearts? Peace comes when we are together and comforting one another. How does that happen? It starts by taking the initiative to get around one another and listen to what that person is going through and dealing with.
Similar to this is 1 Thessalonians 5:11which says “Encourage one another and build one another up.” This implies that there needs to be building up, and given our daily pressures with work and family, we could use a little building up. But in order for this building up to happen the other person needs to be there. So let’s focus on this in the coming weeks of participating and being there for community group and life group.
SECOND, let’s welcome one another. Romans 15:7 says “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” What does it mean to welcome one another? It means that with a warm smile and a friendly hello we acknowledge that we love that person and want to be around that person when we come together. You may say, “but I don’t like that person.” Well, the reality is we were not lovable in the eyes of Jesus, yet Jesus welcomed us because he loved us and it was nothing that we did to deserve this. It was no strings attached. It was not a “what can you do for me?” type of love. Jesus loved us and he welcomed us. So too let’s be welcoming one another into fellowship.
THIRD, let’s not neglect one another. To neglect someone is to disregard them and choose to not connect with them or meet up with them. Hebrews 10:24-25 says “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.”
For those of you who love campfires, as I do, what do you do when the fire is cooling down? You stir the coals in order to get the fire glowing hot again.
So too, coming together is like stirring the coals to help us persevere and continue on. I have experienced this many times in my life. Alone, I can get discouraged. Then I meet with a friend for coffee and have a chat that gets me fired up again and refocused. Community group and life group is the place to come together to help stir the fires in our life and help us refocus and get reenergized.
So, to close in the words of Woody Allen “80% of success is showing up.”
Or in the words of the author of Hebrews “exhort one another every day”.
Let’s focus on taking the first and very important step of showing up to help make fellowship happen. It’s not the same without you.
Prayer of Confession
Father God, we often are nervous and full of anxieties when it comes to a group of people. We feel inadequate and self conscious. God, help us to root our identity in your completed work on the cross and let us trust you and your promises in the Bible of the importance of fellowship. It is a powerful thing. Showing up is a powerful thing. Help us to do this. We are prone to want to stay in our homes and we think that is safer. We pray for great blessings on our community groups and life groups that they would be places of impactful fellowship and God help all of us participate in these to enjoy the gifts you give in those settings. Forgive us Lord for often neglecting to do this. In Jesus’ name amen.