I picked up a new Bible study guide today and decided that I would blog my response to the “Journaling” section rather than write it out in my book. The passage for my reading today was 1 John 1:1-2:2.
Here’s the question:
What are some practical things Christians can do to strengthen their fellowship with one another?
In a previous question I defined fellowship as the “willful partnering with others in the life and mission of Jesus.” We have solidarity in the terms of our relationship with him enough that we can mutually benefit in our discipleship. I have been thinking all afternoon about what sort of practical things Christians can do to foster this type of solidarity. I was reminded of a strategic half hour between worship and Bible class at one church I attended that was called “focused fellowship.” For parents it meant 25 minutes longer than was needed to wrestle with kids in the hallways and keep them from sneaking extra donuts. For others it was a chance to warm their coffee or get a bite of breakfast since they left the house in such a hurry. Could this environment be characterized as fellowship? I believe it could, just needs to be a bit more intentional.
I do not believe that being in the proximity of other Christians means you are fellowshipping unless something is happening that draws you into a better imitation of Christ. So practically speaking, some intentional things that I would consider fellowship might be:
- Having a clearly communicated purpose to intentional inactivity. i.e. “Let’s get together and just share life together!” or “Between worship service and class we hope you will encourage each other over coffee in the foyer.”
- Taking a meal to a family that just came home from the hospital.
- Getting together for coffee to hear what has been happening in someone’s family in hopes of encouraging them to press on through struggles.
- Gathering with a group of men to play ultimate frisbee to strengthen bonds and accountability.
John 1:3 says:
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” (TNIV)
And verse 7:
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (TNIV)
Fellowship with others creates joy and helps us to walk in the light. When we have such an openness in community with others who believe that Jesus’ blood purifies us, it is difficult for us to walk in darkness. Dr. Grover Carlton Emmons in a prayer he wrote says, “Forbid that I should walk alone in shadowed valleys, or grope in perplexity when I am privileged to walk with Thee in the light.” Being in the fellowship of the light helps to illuminate our darkness and bring order to our confusion. As we participate in community with others who carry the name of Jesus we shine light in darkness and our lives intersect in ways that make joy complete.