Understanding The Importance Of True Christian Fellowship

Understanding The Importance Of True Christian Fellowship


Despite man's advancement in many areas, human relationships continue to present problems all over the world. One would think that self-centered, non christian people would find it difficult to get along with each other, but surely when people are born-again and have become new creatures in Christ, such problems can never arise. For, after all, when God is the center of one's life, what possible room can there be for the petty problems that happen between others? Yet, sadly, the fact is Christians fight and quarrel with each other, all over the world.

Many are not even on speaking terms with some of their fellow-Christians; some cannot even stand the sight of certain other Christians. The Name of God continues to be disgraced in the world by the behavior of those who profess Christ.

Jesus said "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." John 13:35

This was - generally speaking - literally fulfilled in the first two centuries of the Christian era. The world looked at the Christians with amazement then, and exclaimed, "Behold how these Christians love one another!" Today, the story is different and the world often says, "Behold how these Christians hate one another!"

Relationships are indeed important. Gifts, talents, methods, techniques, programs and finances are all secondary to people and to inter-personal relationships. The Church can fulfill her God-ordained function as the light of the world only when there is true Christian fellowship among her members. Likewise, an individual believer can become a minister of life to others only when he himself has learned to live according to the law of love with his fellow-Christians.

The Bible plainly and repeatedly teaches that no Christian can have fellowship with God without fellow-shipping with other believers.

You cannot walk with God if you do not walk in love with your fellow-believer.

The cross on which Jesus died had two planks - a vertical one and a horizontal one: Jesus came to bring peace not only between man and God (vertically) but also between man and man (horizontally). The vertical and the horizontal relationships go hand in hand. You cannot have the former if you ignore the latter.

John, the apostle of love, has some very strong words to say on this matter. One of the evidences, he says, of genuine conversion is that a man begins to love his fellow-Christians. If a man does not have this love, it is a sure indication that his conversion is spurious and that he is heading for eternal death. "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not, abideth in death." (1 John 3:14). Doctrinal correctness was not the only test that the apostles applied to ascertain where a man stood in relation to God. Later on in the same letter, John says that if a man claims that he loves God while hating his brother, he is a liar. The proper name for such a man is not "believer", but rather, "liar"! He says, "he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?" (1 John. 4:20).

Now compare this with the experience of most so called "believers." Love for God is usually assessed in terms of busy activity in Christian ministry or in terms of rapturous feelings of delight experienced in a Praise and Worship concert. These can be most deceptive. I have come across so called Christians who are out of fellowship with other Christians, who testify nevertheless to "wonderful times of Spirit filled prayer" and to "amazing miracles, healings and tongues." How could they possibly be walking with God when they have not even made an effort to settle matters with other members of God's family against whom they have a grudge? Surely Satan has blinded their minds to the truth of Scripture!

Often, we do not realize what we deprive ourselves of, when fellowship is broken with other believers. The Bible tells us that we can discover the breadth, length, depth and height of Christ's love and be filled with all the fullness of God only along "with all the saints" (Ephesians 3:17-19).

It is only as we know the reality of fellowship with the believers God places us with, that we shall be able to enter into an experiential understanding of the love of Christ and of the fullness of God.

The one who cuts himself off from any fellow-Christian, thereby deprives himself of the experience of Christ's love and grace which could have been his through that person. When we fail to live by the law of love, we rob ourselves of some of Christ's riches and some of God's fullness.