a few weeks ago i started a new post series on christian community. the first post centered around Christ’s prayer in John 17, the call to Christian unity. The unity of the church is of eternal importance, as, according to Christ, it is the unity of the church that affirms the validity of the gospel message, the coming of Christ and of God’s abounding love, to a lost and hopeless world.
i want to begin to think through what Christian Community is, starting with the all too trendy word, ‘FELLOWSHIP.’
shelves of books have been written about Christian fellowship. many have made known to us that fellowship is more than just hamburgers and volleyball, starbucks and an eldredge book, or christmas parties and caroling. the church has thrown this word around for years, ‘join us for food, fun and fellowship.’ unfortunately, too few understand what it means and too many think it is simply a part of an activity.
most often preachers turn to Acts 2 in discussing fellowship.
in Acts 2:42-46, the early believers were described as being DEVOTED: they were first and foremost zealously committed to the teachings of Christ, that which the apostles labored to share with them. It is important to note that this devotion (and all that follows in v. 42-46) was a corporate devotion. The truth we need to see is that the NT clearly teaches that the Christian Life is lived out in community with the Church.
the second thing we need to see, which is the focal point of this post, is that they were zealously committed to the FELLOWSHIP. there is often a distinct difference between our use of the term ‘fellowship’ and the biblical use of the term as we see it in Acts 2.
the greek word is koinonia. it has not one but TWO common translations in scripture. both will help us undestand the meaning of ‘the fellowship’ that these beleivers were so sold out to.
FIRST: koinonia means ‘communion.’
the basic definition of this word is to ‘have in common.’ it is a sharing, and intimate sharing,
usually referring to the sharing of beliefs, possessions, emotions, thoughts, etc.
This is the way koinonia is understood in other areas of scripture,
such as 1 John 1:3.
1 John tells us that the gospel brings us into COMMUNION with God and with one another.
it is an intimate sharing of a common life.
Communion then, is not a word designating an ACTIVITY, it is a beautiful word that symbolizes an intimate RELATIONSHIP.
It is a relationship of unity, of oneness, perhaps, in many ways, more intimate than we can understand. When we become believers, the Bible says we have COMMUNION with God, we are ONE with God. And, at the same time, we are brought into COMMUNION with Others, the church. This intimate relationship is a result in our POSITION in Christ. All who believe in Christ, are ‘in him’, united with Him in COMMUNION.
Therefore, as a Believer, we are ONE with GOD and ONE with Christ’s Church. This, is Fellowship.
Definition Part ONE: Fellowship is COMMUNION: a SHARED LIFE.
In or next post we will begin to shed light on how ‘a shared life’ redefines the church. we will also begin to look at the second most common translation of the word koinonia to give us a fuller understanding of Christian Fellowship.