Laying Down on the Job
When the contemporary church “has fellowship,” it often means that they enjoy coffee and doughnuts together. A term that is at the very heart of corporate Biblical spirituality has taken on a schedule-based meaning. More than an on again-off again event, fellowship should be an always-on reality in the life of the church. Tracing the meaning of fellowship to its Biblical roots can help reposition it in our lives—and identify its practical, and ultimate, manifestation.
Fellowship inherits its meaning in New Testament Christianity from the Old Testament concept of covenant. God and Abraham entered into covenant, as well as did Jonathan and David. The impact at both levels was the same: oneness. Possessions, reputations, commitments, and protection were promised one to another. When two people are united in covenant, they are to be united “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.” What I have is yours, and what you have is mine. We pick up this flavor in the New Testament with the familiar word koinonia, which has “oneness” as its root meaning, and is usually translated “fellowship.” Because each believer, by means of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), is united by covenant to Christ, so all believers are united to one another in Christ. Therefore, all believers are to be in covenant with one another. The early church lived this out to its fullest, having everything in common and sharing with one another according to need (Acts 2:44-45).
What motivates covenant? With God and Christ, it is love (Deuteronomy 7:9; John 15:12). Our love for them is to fuel our covenant love for one another (John 15:12). Christ’s example of love—laying down his life for his friends—was a true demonstration of fellowship, of covenant oneness. His sacrificial love is the model of the love we are to have for one another (John 15:13).
A cup of coffee and a doughnut for a friend could be an evidence of our fellowship. And yet the costs could go much higher. Only Christ’s example, and God’s love in us, can lead us to lay down our life for our friends.
God’s Promise to You: “Follow my Son’s example, and others will see His love through you.”
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