The book of Acts gives us a look into the lives of early believers, and reveals what was most important to them. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”. (Acts 2:42) These four things listed – teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – are to be an important part of every believer’s life. In addition, each of these all have to do with fellowship, showing the high priority it should have. Fellowship and sharing in community with other believers was something the body of Christ not only participated in, but devoted themselves to! The Greek word for fellowship in this verse is “used of the intimate bond of fellowship which unites Christians” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).
What is it that unites believers? The answer is simple: Jesus. 1 John 1:3 says, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ”. This idea of unity goes back even further than the cross, to the unity of the Trinity. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23). Our fellowship with others begins with our fellowship with God. This unity in Christ is what brings people together, regardless of race, age, background, or social status.
As God created the world and everything in it, in Genesis 1, He repeatedly calls His creation “good.” However, after He creates man, He says, “it is not good for man to be alone”. Community is not only a foundational part of creation, but also of the church. The three thousand new believers mentioned in Acts 2:41 were the ones who, in the following verse, were devoting themselves to fellowship. All those who have surrendered their lives to Christ have the privilege of partaking in fellowship with Him and with others.
The main reason Paul addressed the Corinthian church in his first epistle to them was to correct them for allowing things to get in the way of their fellowship with one another. In 1 Corinthians 1:9-10 Paul writes, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no division among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”. First, Paul establishes that they were called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, and then goes on to encourage them to lay aside the quarrels that they were allowing to get in the way. When disagreements over petty, unimportant things take over, it leaves little room for what God has called believers to do together: to further His kingdom.
The way fellowship is commonly viewed is a shallow replacement of what it is meant to be, and often doesn’t go much further than referring to activities such as fellowship meals, or gathering once a week for church. These are certainly important things, and should not be neglected. However, Christian fellowship in the truest sense of the word, goes so much deeper than this. It’s a shared life, a common purpose, a unified goal. In essence, it’s when believers put aside themselves and their differences, and work toward what truly matters: growing in Christ, and furthering the kingdom of God. The Bible often talks about how believers are to relate to each other. In fact, the phrase “one another” is found approximately 100 times in the New Testament, and we are given many commands concerning how we are to treat the body of Christ.
I would encourage you to do your own study and dig deeper in this, but to give an overview, we are to be: devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10, Acts 2:43), serve one another (Gal. 5:13), pray for one another (James 5:16), and build one another up (Rom. 14:19, Heb. 10:24-25, and others). We are called to live in humility and love with one another, putting our personal desires and ideas aside and looking to our Father, in order to selflessly serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. “If there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”. (Phil. 2:1-3)
The body of Christ is a beautiful thing. When you are saved, you come into fellowship, into the common life, and in union with every other believer. As 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are Christ’s body”. It is not you living, but Christ lives in you. How does this truth change the way you live, the words you speak, and the meditations of your heart? Is there anything you need to change in order to live more in harmony with fellow believers? Pray and ask God to help you rid of anything that hinders your relationship with others, and with Christ.
Written by NBB Alumna: Ruth Derby