We had the privilege recently of a visit from a Christian couple, Dave and Bonnie Perry. This past year they moved down from Anchorage, Alaska to a location near Spokane, Washington which is much closer to where we live in northwest Montana. When I recently wrote a “Wisdom of the Week” about the importance of “face-to-face” interaction versus texting and tweeting and emailing, Dave responded (by email!) that we needed some “face-to-face” time. Well, we got to have that and what a joy it was. Dave and his brother Mark had been teens in the youth group I lead when we first came to Montana to work with Rocky Mountain Bible Mission. That’s been about 35 years ago but we have stayed in touch with Dave over the years.
It was such a blessing to hear Dave and Bonnie tell of how God has been at work in their lives and in their family, how He has used them to minister to others along the way, and how He led them to the job in Washington. There were many “God-sightings” along the way, and I’m sure there will continue to be as they stay in tune with Him. They are definitely using the gifts that God has given them to serve Him and the Body of Christ, and to reach out to the lost. Our hearts rejoiced as we filled in the blanks of the time we have been apart sharing what God has been doing in and through us.
I thought of a Scriptural term that describes what we experienced. It is a word that is so abused in our every-day “Christianese” and that is the word fellowship. To many it just means getting together for refreshments between Sunday school and the worship service. You can’t have fellowship without coffee and cookies! We invite folks to a gathering for “food and fun and fellowship.” Most often the “fellowship” is just meeting around the table and talking to each other about everything under the sun except the one thing that would give us true fellowship–the person of Christ.
Fellowship for the believer means that we meet and share the things of Christ. We talk together about the Lord Jesus Christ, His Word, and what He has been doing in our lives. We read in John’s first epistle: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ…But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I Jn. 1:3,7). The Greek word for “fellowship” is koinonia which means “having in common or sharing with, partnership, participating, intercourse, communion, fellowship.” In other words, it is an intimate time of sharing our spirit and the things of Christ with another believer, a time of sweet communion. It is possible only as we “walk in the light,” meaning to live in obedience to God’s Word, consistently allowing the Holy Spirit to control our lives, to convict of sin, and to direct our paths. As we do that, then we are rewarded with the joy of having “fellowship with one another.” John added in I Jn. 3:4, “And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” And, we experience the continual cleansing power of the “blood of the Lamb.” (I Jn. 3:7b).
When we allow sin in our lives to go unconfessed, we lose that joyous fellowship with other believers and with God. Prayer becomes empty form, worship is just a dull routine, and we become critical of other Christians and probably start staying away from church. Paul said, “what fellowship has light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:14b). A backslidden husband, for example, who is walking in spiritual darkness, out of fellowship with God, can never enjoy full fellowship with his Christian wife, who is walking in the light. In a superficial way, the couple can have companionship; but true spiritual fellowship is impossible. This inability to share spiritual experiences causes many personal problems in homes and between members of local churches. But, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9) and our fellowship is restored–with God and with other believers who are walking in the light.
It is interesting that the Apostle Paul even uses the word koinonia to speak of our relationship with Christ. He wrote: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into koinonia with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9). Some translate this “fellowship” and others “partnership.” If you are in Christ, if you have come to Him and trusted Him as your Savior, then not only do you have sweet communion with Him, but you are in a partnership with Christ as well. He is willing to be our partner! Wow! “We are God’s fellow workers” (I Cor. 3:9). Paul expressed this “partnership” often in his letters. For example, in Col. 1:28,29, He wrote: “And we proclaim Him admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to the power, which mightily works within me.”
His “Fellow Worker”