Category Archives: Fellowship

Guided by Love to Unity

What sort of Christian, what sort of Disciple do we want to be? How do we want our faith and our hope in Christ to be expressed? How do we want it seen by the world around us, reflected from the deeper places in our hearts and our souls?

Those should be, when we stop to think about it, relatively easy questions to answer, shouldn’t they? After all, the Word of God, simple and beautiful by its very nature, is uncomplicated when it offers us the understanding we need to dwell in the knowledge of what it means to be one of Christ’s Disciples, to follow in the footsteps and the path of our blessed Savior. (1 Corinthians 1:11) Of all the commands that came before, the instructions and the laws that wove around the most ancient of covenants, His was unadorned by ritual and ceremony, by pomp and procedure. Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, (Matthew 28:16-20) showing them the path of faith and hope through a love that edifies, strengthens and nourishes those around us in the miracle that is His blessings. (John 13:34-35)

This is why He Himself, a poor carpenter from Galilee, born in the most meager of estates in Bethlehem, was viewed as so much of a threat. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from or where you had been, you were welcomed to Him. Yes, what God wanted, what God expected was important, but, in a wisdom that so often seems to elude the comprehension of men, He knew there was no rules that meant more to God than that we love Him, and that we love our one another with the full strength and full conviction of our hearts and our souls, our spirits and our minds. (Matthew 22:37-41) This was the blessing we could be by which all abundant life shined as a beacon to the world around us.

So often though we get tend to get bogged down by doctrine and the fights that it brings, we get so hung up on one or two passages in Scripture that we tend to let that define our faith more than anything else. We let ourselves become known for the things we are against as we let it serve as a wall surrounding us that keeps others out, rather than letting our faith and love serve as a door to let them in.

Now, to be clear, a proper understanding of Scripture should never be debased, nor should it be shied away from. The Word of God is meant to be studied, to be learned from, as it offers a path through its instruction to a righteous life. (2 Timothy 3:16) Yet nowhere in the Bible does it say “He who believes and is baptized, believing in all the right doctrine shall be saved.” Why? Because God transcends us in His wisdom and His hope for us even as He knows we aren’t going to completely understand or grasp it, telling us to dwell in unity with one another and turn from those who would tear us apart, who would destroy the fabric of harmony and peace between us. (Romans 16:17-18)

After all, in the end, it’s only God Himself who judges the hearts, the words and the deeds, the lifestyles and the choices of those souls that enter His Kingdom, not us. The path, if we believe the words of our blessed Savior, the Good Shepherd who guides and protects us, it is not a path that is paved through strictest adherence that abides in law, it is the path that has been paved by Him (John 14:6) in His tender mercy, His loving care, and His healing touch.

You can do more as a Disciple in the humble works of faith with a kindness to others, seeking to be a blessing in the world around you than you could ever do by hiding, locked away in a fortress of law and doctrine, shunning the world harshly for the offenses that it causes you. In that you have the capacity, through the power of the Spirit, to do more with the gift of grace that God has given you if you let yourself. It’s just a question of if you’ll let yourself, knowing that God will use you for more if your heart is truly open to love, hope and charity, and the wonders they can bring.

So again, what sort of Disciple do you want to be? What sort of blessings do you want to bring through your faith? It can be a blessing blossoming with the radiance of the truest beauty that springs forth from your soul, it’s just a matter of setting aside your pride and letting the Spirit nurture it to that point. After all, it is this love, this hope, in the principles of Christ’s blessed example that makes Scripture relevant, passing from age to age even to the present one.

The role of obedience in fellowship

Fellowship

John 15:10  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

In order to remain in fellowship with God, we must “abide” in Him, but how do we do this?  If we speak to God in prayer and hear from God in His Word, what do we do with we’ve said and heard?  How do we walk in this fellowship?

Sin separates us from God.  Any sin.  But it’s not about the wrong acts of sin, it’s about the broken relationship.  A perfect, holy God can’t tolerate sin and still be in fellowship with the sinner.  We have to be righteous, just as He is righteous (Matthew 5:48).  But a problem exists.  We’re not perfect and we can’t be!  So we come back to the question of how we can be in fellowship with God if the requirement is perfection.

First of all, just as sin is a broken relationship with God rather than wrong acts, righteousness is a right relationship with God rather than good acts.  We may not be capable of perfection, but we have been given the righteousness of Christ, who is perfect, if our lives are submitted to Him.  Only then do we have any ability to obey God.  You see, obeying doesn’t lead to righteousness.  Imputed righteousness (look that up, it’s a great word study) empowers us to obey.  Jesus’ work on the cross frees us that we might be able to obey God, because we love Him.  Obedience based on love can only lead to loving fellowship.

Prayer as a means to fellowship

Fellowship

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

How do we connect with God?  We hear from Him in the Bible, learn who He is and what His will is, and gain fellowship with Him.  But what about our side of the conversation?  How does God hear from us?

Prayer is our way of speaking to the Lord and a big part of fellowship with Him.  We mainly pray in one of several fashions.  Confession is where we own up to our sins before God and receive the forgiveness He’s given in Christ.  Petition is the time to ask for our needs to be met (“Give us this day our daily bread”), while intercession is asking for the needs of others to be met.  Thanksgiving and praise are vital to fellowship as well.  Giving thanks to God for all He’s done puts our hearts in a humble place where we’re more capable of experiencing Him and praising Him.

Without prayer, fellowship with God falters because we can’t even carry on a human relationship without speaking to the other person, let alone a close relationship with the Creator of all things.  We wants our attention, our time, our devotion.  Talking the time to speak to God serves a key role in our spiritual well-being.