Wednesday, May 23, 2018

EKKLESIA: Fellowship

When I was 15 years old a friend of mine invited me to their Wednesday night fellowship at church. I inquired to him, "Fellowship? What is that?" He explained it was a dinner at church and then they had bible study. Why didn't he just say that and not speak church code language?

Fellowship has been a part of the Christian lingo since the beginning of the church. It is a unique word. We don't describe dinner time with friends and family as fellowship. But when we get together as a church to eat and talk we call it "fellowship". And we will say things like "the fellowship was great."

Curiosity always gets the best of me... because I want to know why we use this word in terms of the church.

The Acts church at its best was a group of people who were devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ, fellowship, eating together and prayer. Fellowship wasn't an afterthought. It was the thing right after Jesus Christ. It was the cornerstone of Church (Ekklesia a group of gathered people called/transformed by God's grace).

The Greek word for fellowship is Koinonia (Coin-Nah-Knee-Ah). This word meant a lot of things... partnership, community, sharing, intimacy, contribution, participation.

The essence of Koinonia is a body that loves God and loves one another well. We all celebrate our shared love of Jesus Christ.

This is fellowship. It is our shared connection with God and one another. The healthier the "fellowship" them more healthy the church. The more we are disconnected to one another and God... the more toxic the church.

But fellowship is only as valuable as our commitment to fellowship. We can't be apart of the church and not fellowship. This is important and significant. Because at some point someone in the body will challenge the fellowship and feelings will get hurt. Relationships and division happen. And the fellowship between God and one another becomes chasmed.

Yet our commitment to fellowship is not dependent upon our "behavior" or making mistakes. Fellowship is a selfless commitment. That a relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ is of more value than whatever chasm stands in between. A value of the Christian community is "Being Kind of being right" (Bob Goff).

I have not doubt that this beautiful Acts community where everyone was devoted to one another and the fellowship was pure was for a brief second. It didn't take long before complacency and division snuck in... yet our challenge by God's grace... is to continue to be the gathered ones of God... and to share in the Koinonia with God and one another.