Our scripture lesson for this topic is Phillipians 2:1-18.
Fellowship is defined in the dictionary as intimacy, or communion. When we think of fellowship in regard to Christian affairs or church affairs, we are more apt to get an impression of social gregariousness. Thus, when we think of the Pioneer Fellowship, we likely think of a Pioneer social gathering. And when an evening of Christian Fellowship for the Men is announced, we are likely to think of just what we are going to do tonight, play various games and enjoy each other’s company along with some refreshments.
Let’s dissect this Christian Fellowship to see just what it is. Christian Fellowship is much like the Christian Home we mentioned previously. Everyone wants it, but few acquire it.
The first of two elements that make up Christian Fellowship is a Reconciling Fellowship. This can best be summed up by quoting one sentence out of the Scripture lesson: “Treat one another with the same Spirit as you experience in Christ Jesus.”
What is Reconciliation? When two friends disagree and emotions are aroused and anger has flared, there is nothing so joyous as a reconciliation of mind and heart that results from clearing up the difficulty. Also, when husband and wife find themselves in a disagreement and perhaps their home is in danger of breaking up, their need is for a reconciliation. We find similar estrangements all about us… in business, in politics and even in the church.
Paul, in a letter to the Corinthians, tells us that we have a responsibility for reconciliation. When we find ourselves involved in antagonistic situations, broken friendships, marriage tensions or even church divisions, we professing Christians are then in a position where we must first test our reconciliation with God by confessing our own failure. Then we must become active agents in bringing forgiveness and friendship into these relations. Once we have accomplished both of these, our own reconciliation is assured.
The second of these two Christian Fellowship elements is a Redeeming Fellowship. The Redeeming Fellowship is the Fellowship with Christ, for He has redeemed us. That which is put in pawn cannot redeem itself, and we cannot redeem ourselves. But through Christ, we are relieved of our guilt for our sins and with that barrier removed, we are reconciled and redeemed to Christ.
What happens when we don’t have this reconciling and redeeming fellowship?
The story is told of a man named Samuel Holmes who was in Frankfurt, Kentucky, serving a prison term for murder. In years gone by, this man had saved some lives by some heroic effort. Consequently, another man named Young interceded with the Governor for a pardon. Because of the man’s previous record, the Governor issued a pardon. Young took the pardon to the prison to Holmes, and without telling him he had the pardon, asked what Holmes would do if he were free. Holmes said that he would go and kill the judge and a man who testified against him. Young left and tore up the pardon without ever telling him that he had it.
This is what happens to us when we don’t have this Christian Fellowship. Perhaps we don’t really understand what we are missing, but it’s because we have never been shown what joy there could have been through Christian Fellowship. Christ is the Great Unifier. Whether we are strangers or friends, or parents or children, or husbands or wives, in Christ we can be reconciled and unified. Christian Fellowship doesn’t allow any room for resentment. There is no place for a chip on the shoulder.