(Below is the notes for my admittedly scrappy message on fellowship, the first message I ever delivered. Enjoy!)
Are you a “lone ranger” Christian? Are you connected to a local body of believers, or is it just you and Jesus? According to Scripture, fellowship with other believers is of crucial importance. Without it, not only can we not be of benefit to others, but we ourselves become starved of the benefits that come from being in community. Thus, we fail to fulfil God’s purposes in our lives.
Purposes of fellowship:
To display our discipleship to unbelievers
John 13:34-35 “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another”
Clearly this cannot happen if we keep to ourselves!
To exercise spiritual gifts
Many of these cannot be exercised alone. 1 Cor 12:7-11 lists spiritual gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, discernment and interpretation of tongues. All of these are for the collective benefit of a gathering of people.
I Cor 14:
:4 “He who prophesies edifies the church”
:6 “What good will I be to you without revelation, knowledge, prophecy or instruction”
:12 “Try to excel in gifts that build up the church”
A “lone ranger” Christian cannot help build up the Church or be built up with it.
For encouragement and support
:10 “Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up”
:12 “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”
Without the support of other believers, we are more vulnerable to the stresses of life and the attacks of the enemy. The local church thus provides a God-ordained protective covering.
This support should also extend to material things where necessary. Of the early church, Acts 4:34 says “There were no needy persons among them”.
To establish the body of Christ
1 Cor 12:
:14 “Now the body is made up not of one part, but of many”
:25 “There should be no division in the body, the parts should have equal concern for one another”
:21 “The eye cannot say to the hand ‘I don’t need you!’”
The different parts are meant to operate together. A lone ranger Christian is like a severed limb; unable to be of benefit; unable to function!
John 17 :22 Jesus prays “that they may be one as we are one”
God wants us to be as one; united in vision and purpose in Him.
1 John 4:12 “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”
For God’s love to be complete in us, we must love one another!
How does God see the church?
Eph 5:25-33 “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
If God loves the church, than we should love it too.