Give Yourself to Others …

Tests of Fellowship

Posted on: 2009/01/07

I admit to a somewhat visceral reaction when I hear someone say they can’t be around another person, because of what someone has said or what they’ve done.

Disagreements over doctrinal matters have provided the basis for denominational divisions among people who claim the label, Christian.  Similarly, cultural or social differences have provided a basis for similar social divisions by race, ethnicity and other criteria.

So, the question of “tests of fellowship”, while a familiar phrase to religious people, is equally applicable to secular matters.

When I read the gospel of the New Testament, I have not yet found an example of Jesus applying such tests of fellowship.  He dealt with each individual based upon each unique individual.

That’s very hard.  But very necessary, if we’re to “love each other, the way Jesus loved us.”

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2 Responses to "Tests of Fellowship"

All right David, your daughter, my wife, turned me on to your blog. And since you love to dialogue so much, I figured you could handle it. As you know, we have been through some very difficult times when it comes to church, theology, doctrine, fellowship etc. Basically we have struggled with our beliefs and practices of and about God. It seems to me that many go through this about this time in life. At least, I have encountered many that have recently. That said, here goes…
Concerning fellowship, my understanding has changed. Yes, much due to the study of proper Greek/Hebrew interpretations and their translations into English. While I due agree that some can delve into studying God’s word and come out prideful, confrontational or have a stubbornness the likes many have not seen, it is still the noblest pursuit man could have. It is precisely the lack of proper study of God’s word that leads to poor theology like you will see in many churches today.
That being said, I have struggled with the very topic you are discussing. Considering “fellowship” is there and if so when is the line crossed that you do not have fellowship with other believers or those who are not believers. I do believe that scripture does give us some standards to follow when it comes to these matters. A proper study of them can help us/me understand more clearly the boundaries that God does put in place for our good and for His glory. Such as, not being unequally yolked. I am pretty sure all understand this to mean “don’t marry an unbeliever”. Yet we do it anyway and the choice of our disobedience is evident. If we are speaking to “friends or acquaintances” that is an altogether different matter. As I have come to understand we are not to remove ourselves from spending time with non believers. If we did how would they ever hear the gospel! So yes, we should and must love (1Cor. 13) all men. There is no greater love we could show any man than to tell them of the good news. It seems to me that where we get into trouble as believers is we allow men who do not have the Spirit to influence us in matters that the Holy Spirit and God’s word should have authority. That is why I see that we should have “true fellowship” and I mean by that a family relationship only with believers but still love all men. As Christ said, “who are my mother and brothers and sisters” (excuse the paraphrase) but those who love Him. Where I was always confused is how those two look. Love is different than I thought. A study of God’s word reveals that we have a very distorted view of what it means. Christ says that 1Cor. 13 is what we are supposed to show even our enemies! Wow! How short I fall. I do have friends who are not believers. I still invite them over, go to football games with them and hang out with them. I don’t however share spiritual difficulties or problems with them. Precisely because they would have no understanding. That is not to say that I do not speak to them about spiritual matters. But, my motivation is purely to plant seeds or water or if God wills, the opportunity to share the gospel and partake in His harvest. But, I would not call that fellowship. Fellowship would be with a family member. As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water. It is, but the blood is as Christ described. Well, I will stop rambling for now and see what you think. I will probably respond to some of your other blogs as time permits and hopefully we can sharpen each other.

Dan

I can certainly agree, that fellowship carries different connotations with different relationships. Fellowship with unbelievers is different in some ways than fellowship with believers.

But, for a moment, let’s just look at fellowship among believers.

Why so many different denominations? Because one group finds the doctrinal differences two great to worship with others? I think that is often the case.

And regardless of the reason, my point is that Jesus did not draw such lines. He did away with legal distinctions (which are very similar, if not identical to doctrinal distinctions).

There are probably lots of appropriate reason to worship with one group over another: Pre-existing friendships, worship style, congregational programs.

But ultimately, fellowship should not be driven by doctrine, because Jesus condemned such behavior.

P.S. Not everyone believes the “unequally yoked” phrase is about marriage. And I’m one of them.

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