Monday, February 24, 2020

Hangin' Out

One of the main ingredients that gave the early church such great success was they engaged in fellowship with one another daily. The word fellowship has many expressions: a partnership; to partner together as one; to participate; to communicate; to have common interest; a state of being together; communion; community; association for religious and spiritual purposes. It is noteworthy to understand that believer’s in the early church did not function independently. They recognized the power, life, and unity that’s released through true Christian fellowship, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…For there the LORD commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133) Jesus said it this way, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18.20)

The nature of fellowship or community was first established within the three persons of the Godhead; the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. God desired to establish community on earth and He did so through the first family, Adam and Eve. Man was given the choice to enjoy community on earth with one another, and also with God. Choice is at the center of community and is what makes it a powerful experience. It is not something that can be forced into operation; on the contrary, it must be something that one desires. Knowing this, we can better understand God's desire to create community on earth. We also can see the destructive nature of broken fellowship that the first community on earth experienced which has affected the entire human race.

Today, in our individual lives we are faced with the issue of fellowship/community once again. Our busy lives can become a crutch that keeps us focused on our own kingdom and not see the power and life that can be experienced through daily fellowship with one another. After God had established community on earth, Satan came along and proposes his own plan to Eve which Adam also bought into. Satan's plan seemed to be attractive to Eve but in fact was full of deception. Man was now faced with choice; and the choice that he made was an act of disobedience so tragic it caused the breakdown of community and fellowship.

Not only had community been twisted between God and man, but also between man and woman, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8) The fellowship which God intended between Himself and man was now broken and the very essence of community on earth would suffer unimaginable consequences, “Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him." (Genesis 4:8) Can you fathom that? By the second generation of man, the first murder has taken place. Not only did Cain kill his brother Able, but Cain was driven away and became a fugitive and a vagabond. (Genesis 4:14)

We must come to understand that Satan continues to work at keeping the children of God from fellowship and community because he knows the power that is released. Look at Gods response to the people in the land of Shinar when they came as one to build a tower and make a name for themselves, "And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them." (Genesis 11:6) Look at the power releases in community. These people were spiritually dead yet they saw what community could accomplish. The church has the Holy Spirit, so now think how much more power can be released in just one congregation functioning this way. Now, think how much power would be released if the entire church would come into fellowship/community with one another.

It takes individual choice to build community. It also takes a desire to see the church become even more powerful and influential than it has ever been. The creation of man reveals an important key to living in fellowship/community, "Then God said,"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26) The apostle Paul tells us, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1) Man was made in the image and likeness of God, so with that in mind believers should then talk and act like God. One of the ways we imitate God is through community. As mentioned above, the nature of fellowship or community was first established within the three persons of the Godhead, so let's imitate God by choosing to be an active part of Christian community. The grace of our LORD Jesus Christ be with you...

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