1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
The Biblical Greek word for fellowship is “koinonia.” It is usually translated in English to “communion,” “fellowship,” “sharing in common” and “partake.” The usage of Greek words belonging to the koin-family refer primarily, though not invariably, to participation in something rather than to association with others, and there is often a possessive word (genitive) to indicate that in which one participates or shares. “Sharing” or “fellowship” arises out of the common sharing of something. This is Christian fellowship: sharing together in Christ.
Many times, Scripture speaks of sharing or partaking in Christ together and the effects it should have on us. The Bible makes clear that our fellowship in Christ should lead to unity. The fact that we share in Christ is the most important thing about us; it is a bond that we need to continually take to heart and practice. Even the sacrament of communion is not just a ritual, but is a symbolic demonstration of (what should be) a communal reality. We practice communion, which is another word for fellowship, so that we can remember Christ together.1
Why is Fellowship Important for Believers?
- It Brings Glory to God. Fellowship is part of God’s creative design. We are made in His image.2 God, being triune in nature (Father, Son, Spirit), is in relationship with Himself. Therefore, we are to reflect God’s relational character by having a relationship with Him and others. From the beginning, God clothed man as a symbol that they were His people.3 Throughout the history of mankind, God initiates with man that they would live in relationship with Him.4 By having relationships with others, we further reflect God’s relational nature evident in the Trinity.5 Also remember, Jesus commanded us to love one another. We are able to resemble Jesus by being His followers and being in unified relationships with God’s people. Because of this love for one another, people will know that we are His disciples. Therefore, Jesus is glorified when we live as the people He has called us to be. It brings glory to God when we are in fellowship because that is how He designed us; we fulfill His creative design, and thus glorify Him, when we live to be as He created us – in fellowship.
- John 17:20-23
- We Need Each Other. We live in a world hostile towards God.6 The life of faith in Christ requires perseverance, for it is he who stands firm until the end that will be saved.7 Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is repeatedly commanded in order that we may:
a) Encourage each other to run the race well
b) Not fall away from Christ
c) Experience help in times of weakness
d) Model the character of God to one another
This is not to say that all relationships with fellow believers are easy because our bond has such depth. On the contrary, relationships with fellow believers can be extremely difficult (which is obvious by the number of exhortations towards unity written in the New Testament). Even though unity with fellow believers can be extremely difficult, we need to renew our minds and do our best with the Holy Spirit’s help to live accordingly.
- Hebrews 3:12-14
- Ephesians 4:3-6, 11-16, 25, 29-30
- Philemon 1:4-7
- Philippians 2:1-4
What Does Fellowship Look Like Practically?
As seen in passages above, it is about attitude and action. Because we are one body that has been called to spur one another on, to love one another, to be one with each other and the Lord, we need to have this mentality. Additionally, like all aspects of our faith, we need to act on it. We need to actively love our brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging one another in our faith, pursuing unity and overcoming disunity. But how do we do this? There are many ways, but it starts with intentional pursuit of the church, namely the people of God.
Christian activities such as Bible studies, prayer meetings, and getting involved with a local church are great starting points to experiencing fellowship. It takes intentionality because fellowship does not always come easily. It takes perseverance because loving one another can be very hard. It takes conviction that it is something we must pursue because the Lord has commanded it, and therefore we must pursue it wholeheartedly.
- Romans 12:9-13
- What is fellowship?
- Why is it important to spend time with other Christians?
- How important is fellowship in your life today?
- Where could you find supportive Christian fellowship on a consistent basis?
How does this study reinforce your belief in the gospel?
- 1 Corinthians 11:26
- Genesis 1:26-27
- Genesis 3:21
- Genesis 9:9, 12:1-3
- Genesis 2:18
- Romans 8:7
- Matthew 10:22