What is fellowship?

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QUESTION: What is fellowship? Why should we do it?

ANSWER: The basic definition of Christian fellowship is that it is the act of meeting with those who are converted and who possess the same general beliefs. It is the sharing of knowledge and the trials and triumphs of life among those who are called and chosen of God. Such regular meetings are an essential element in a believer's spiritual growth and development. The World English Dictionary defines this word as the act of people sharing activities, goals, interests, duties, trials, troubles and alike with one another in a group. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible has six different definitions for the word fellowship.

Several basic elements to fellowship need to exist for it to be successful. The first is that those who meet together should have things in common like beliefs (Acts 2:42), work (Nehemiah 4:1 - 23), faith (1Samuel 20:30 - 42), need (2Corinthians 8:1 - 15) and what they struggle against (Daniel 3:16 - 30). Other areas of commonality include a common purpose ("How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God's people to live together in harmony!" as found in Psalms 133:1) and conviction ("you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another. . ." as in 1Peter 3:8). Another is hope as is stated by the Apostle Paul.

"There is one body and one Spirit, even as you were also called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4)

Another foundation is in what is shared. Believers should share in the responsibility of helping others in the faith who may lack the essentials of life.

3. For I testify that according to their ability, and even beyond their ability, they were willing to give of themselves, 4. Earnestly entreating us to accept the gift, and their participation in the service for the saints (2Corinthians 8:3 - 4)

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They should also share in what it takes to preach the gospel to the world.

3. I (the Apostle Paul) thank my God on every remembrance of you, 4. Always making supplication with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5. For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:3 - 5, see also Galatians 2:9)

What should be also shared is the power of God's spirit to bring people together ("Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you" - Philippians 2:1). Another element is that those who meet should all desire to walk in the light of God's word (1John 1:7). All believers should share in what is called the 'Gospel mystery.'

8. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, was this grace given, that I might preach the gospel among the Gentiles - even the unsearchable riches of Christ . . . the mystery that has been hidden from the ages in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:8 - 9)

There are, of course, several other traits believers should share in but only a few are listed here to spur further study.

Fellowship, as a noun, or as action, demonstrates who we are. It allows us to interact with others who share common beliefs and sentiments. It allows us to recognize our own faults and gives us the opportunity to share in the spiritual growth of others. Moreover, as we have seen and as the Bible confirms, this is highly pleasing in God's sight. We should practice this outstanding spiritual trait whenever we can.

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