In these articles I like to talk a lot about fellowship. The reason for this is that the Bible tells us that
fellowship is an integral part of every Christian's growth. We were never supposed to try and live this Christian
experience alone. We were meant to get out there and use our God given talents to show others how they can use
theirs as well. You can kind of think of this as a mission. In fact, we as Christians have been given a
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
It's good for Christian's to get out there not just because it gives us an opportunity to share the Word with people or groups who may have never heard it, or perhaps have a skewed understanding of scripture based on the incorrect perceptions of others, especially those who have an agenda to present the Bible falsely. We are responsible for this as surely as we are responsible for the development of our brothers and sisters who come to the same building that we do on Sunday mornings. After all, and I think that you'll agree, there are more people there (in the service on Sunday) who really don't have a clue, than there are true believers. I'd go so far as to say that the non-believers outnumber us 3 to 1. So, if we aren't opening our arms, our hearts and our homes to those among us who are, at the very least, making the effort to get there, what good can we possibly hope to be to those outside the walls?
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NIV)
Sure, many of them attend church out of a sense of obligation. It's something that our parents instilled in us within our familial units when we were kids. Many others are trying to “figure it out”, and some are there to “make an appearance” for the benefit, not of God's church, but of their status in the community. You know the kind; those who hope to build their customer base by appearing to be solid Christian citizens, worthy to do business with. Others have a political agenda that they're nursing toward some seat of power in their local, state or federal government. Or even those who are seemingly the perfect church goers, but whose real ambition is to be the “one people look to as an example” regardless of the kind of example that they present.
I pray that you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing that we have in Christ. Philemon 1:6 (NIV)
So, you're probably asking yourselves; in what way can I accomplish this? How can I be in more fellowship than I am already? I go to church on Sunday … and not just church … I go to Sunday School too … and to the “ice cream socials” and “bar-b-que lunches” and the “holiday meals”— once a year. I go to Bible study on Wednesday, I go to a prayer breakfast once a week, month, quarter. What else can I possibly do?
How about— oh I don't know— being a friend to someone who hasn't got many … or— God forbid— any?
Have you ever looked across the sanctuary and saw someone that you didn't know— or worse, someone that you do— and thought, “To heck with that guy/gal! He/she must be sitting alone because no one likes him/her. He/she must be some kind of a jerk. He/she deserves to be alone”?
Well, I hope not.
But, why didn't you take the time to go and visit with that person? Would it have killed you to invite them out to lunch … with the rest of your friends … after church? What about just inviting them over to watch the ballgame, or go with you to that car show? Did you think, “Maybe they like guns too and would like to go to the show in—” pick your venue.
I'm not trying to “toot my own horn” here, but I recently invited someone(s) out for lunch who was new to the church service. Someone(s) who looked like they might be looking for a friendly environment to make a church home for their family. Less recently, I befriended someone who was new to the state. My friends and I invited this person out for lunch after a service, and later decided that it would probably be good for us to invite this person out to do things outside of church, just so he didn't think that we just wanted him to come only to church. In other words, we wanted to make him our friend and not just our church friend.
The funny thing about people is, regardless of what we do for God, whether we're a pastor or a Sunday School teacher or a choir member, we tend to be clique-ish, just like we were in high school. We tend to think of ourselves (us, our friends and family) first and “others” second … completely forgetting the fact that we are all children of God … or, at least, potentials.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2 (NIV)
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NIV)
I can say all these things because I've been— I am that guy sitting alone in the fourth pew on the other side of the sanctuary. But, I'm a loner and obviously don't need the kind of fellowship that I've been talking about here. But, I can guarantee you, there are plenty of men and women out there who are in desperate need of this kind of love. Let's try not to disappoint them. They may begin to think that it's just how all Christian's are. And we know that's not true … don't we?
Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
G. J. Fortier is a member of Ironmen Ministries and First Baptist Church, Centerville, GA. Look for his novels on Amazon on Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.GerardFortier.com