Updated: Mar 10
You may have heard Christians or churches saying that they are going to have 'fellowship time' now or that they are going to be 'fellowshipping with others', when what they really mean is that they're going to have a coffee or tea, some refreshments and a conversation.
It can be daunting if you are entering the group - like trying to break into any group at a function - plus, now there's this term 'fellowshipping'. What does it mean?
Strictly speaking, 'fellowship' was never a verb. It's been changed to that by well-meaning Christians through the 20th and 21st centuries.
'Fellowship' is a noun. It describes a state of being, not a conversation.
Think of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring". He wasn't titling the book after a kafeeklatsch or describing the activity of a Ring. He was identifying a group bound together by their connection to the One Ring. It was a bond, not a bite.
The value of true fellowship was impressed on me once again at our Festival in Mandurah late last year, where Christians from multiple churches and congregations gathered together to celebrate the Kingdom of God.
We were bound together, not by sourdough bread, but by the bread of life; not by brie, but by the blood of Jesus Christ, given for us and humanity.
With that in the forefront of our minds, our services and activities throughout the Festival, we indeed then shared meals, conversation and fun, but always fed by the important matters of faith and hope, love and life driven by the reality and vision of the Kingdom of God. We also worked together, partnered, shared and helped one another. All of these elements are part of what it means to be a fellowship.
It was refreshing. It lent us courage. It gave us strength. And it was full of appreciation and joy.
Just as it is recorded in the book of Malachi:
"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honoured his name."
- Malachi 3:16
It wasn't that they were just talking randomly, it was that they were speaking in their fear (which roughly speaking for those who worship God is awe, respect, belief and obedience) of the Lord. So their subjects, their thoughts, their actions were bent towards the Lord and His Word and to each other in connection with the Lord. And to the Lord, those words are precious. He notes and records those who honour Him in this way.
That true fellowship in Christ impresses me every week we meet together as His Church and share together in our life with Him.
I can't show you in written form or in a picture what it is like. To know it, to understand it, you have to experience it.
Many people who, perhaps like you, are enquiring after or seeking God, believers and Christians all over the world unfortunately take the tack that they can sail their own ship out to sea all by themselves, survive the storms and reach their ultimate destination without any other hand on deck. Just watch a few videos. Read some Facebook posts. Maybe pick up a deeper book or just read your own Bible by yourself. In fact, I received a pamphlet to that effect in my letterbox just this week - "You don't have to go to church, just be by yourself with God!"
They miss the reality that God didn't want people to just understand some truth. He wanted them to live it - within the bonds of fellowship with Him and His people. Otherwise, they never really understood it in the first place.
If you want to come and be part of the fellowship, you may be thinking: "But how do I start? How do I be part of it when I've never experienced it?"
Come. Listen. Share. Serve.
Genuine fellowships of Christ want to share the goodness, the forgiveness and the redemption of God. Ask God for help. Those people there are just like you - sometimes gregarious, sometimes shy, definitely not perfect. Pitch in. Help. Partner in doing the work of Christ. If you are seeking God, you'll soon find a connection that gives you strength, courage and love - fellowship of the spirit, not just idle words.
Come. Be part of the fellowship of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.