Monday, January 18, 2010

Genuine Fellowship

The missing element in the contemporary church is the real fellowship so evident in the early church. The warmth and sweetness of their fellowship demonstrated the “oneness” of body which the church exemplifies. Their possessions were not considered goods to be protected, cherished, and hoarded. Rather they were treated as tools to be utilized for the common good.

This was not Communism where government pooled resources and doled them out equally to all, but rather a voluntary recognition that God had blessed them with everything they possessed and they were simply the caretakers. Brothers and sisters in Christ experienced the generosity of one another as genuine family. There was no recrimination for those who had need and no hesitancy on the part of those who had plenty.

A tangible result of that attitude of fellowship was that they had great power in witnessing and uncountable numbers were added to the church. That we have lost that is evident in the fact that we often sit in a worship service and know little of the affairs of those around us. We go to our homes, and watch football, or play games without involving ourselves in the lives of those with whom worship. Throughout the busy week little social interaction takes place outside a few close friends and family. How can one approach a virtual stranger and share his fears, joys, and concerns? Must the church remain an impassive body unresponsive to the genuine needs of brothers and sisters in Christ simply because we choose not to engage them on a personal and intimate level?

I believe church should have a reputation as a safe harbor where truth is presented in love by caring people genuinely interested in the general welfare. Rather, it is often represented as a cold body which rejects the imperfect. Strife, bickering, unforgiveness, and jealousy within the body give the lie to the message that Christ can meet one’s needs and lift his burdens, because what he sees in the church is no different than what he experiences at home and at work.

So the world asks, “Why do you claim that Christ is the answer? Your life is little different than ours, and we can sleep late on Sunday Mornings.”

The missing element, I believe, is genuine fellowship, and the only way we’re going to reverse the trend toward irrelevance in the local church is for those who claim Christ as Lord, to begin opening themselves in a vulnerable way to others so that the world might see genuine fellowship in us. Will you commit yourself to expanding your area of genuine concern by involving yourself with someone within the body who you don’t know much about? Invite them to your home for dinner, or coffee and cake. Choose this day to grow the fellowship within your local assembly so that the world will know you are different.

© 2010 Mike Rasberry

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