Confession and Fellowship (2)
“As we value the health of our own souls and of the Christian church, then, we must learn to prize fellowship.”
J. I. Packer
Emotionally healthy people crave community. God made us with that desire, and we seek to satisfy it in societies of all sorts. But they are not finding it. Spiritually healthy people—Christians who live in faithful response to the Word and Spirit of God—have found the community everyone is searching for. They have found it in what the Bible calls fellowship. Fellowship is the community for which God customized us.
Curiously, however, some Christians are tempted to think that they can remain spiritually healthy apart from breathing the fresh air of biblical fellowship. They are seriously mistaken. It was German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer that said:
“Let Him who cannot be alone beware of community … Let Him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
In Christ we have the perfect life of solitude and silence, and the life of community. In John 15:12-17 Christ emphasizes His credo of believing fellowship with His disciples:
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.
Commonalities in believing fellowship from John 15:12-17 are: common love; common obedience to Christ; common cause; common sacrifice. Fellowship and confession are often referred to as corporate disciplines and considered together in discussion, primarily because they are part of each other as far as the New Testament is concerned. Confession ought to be a regular part of any fellowship, and true fellowship is contingent upon sin being dealt with (see Matthew 18).
Fellowship is more than food and a pot luck. True biblical fellowship that genuinely shares in a common love of God and love for each other is a powerful reality and a force to be reckoned with. In Matthew 18:20 we read, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” The context here is sin and forgiveness. There is a sense that Christ is most present in the community of His people. In fellowship we engage in worship, study, prayer, service, confession, and a myriad of other activities. It is here, sharing in common with other believers that the reality of Christ is shown to a watching world.
One cannot overstate the importance of fellowship. We cannot serve Christ in a life of isolation. There is no doubt that we need times of solitude, silence, and isolation from people in life to be healthy in our spiritual lives. In the believer’s life, there is always this dynamic motion from isolation to community. It does not flow the other way. We move back into isolation, but it is only so that we can move deeper into community. We go into solitude so we can better serve when we return to the group. The Christian life is very personal, but it is only personal within community. I remember a speaker saying a number of years ago there are two things you cannot do alone:
1. Be married and; 2. Be a Christian. Well said!
See you Sunday … in fellowship … in Community