The Necessity of Christian Fellowship
God designed Christian fellowship—Christians caring for one another in a committed body of believers—as the place where incredible things would happen. It’s the context in which we can build each other up, comfort one another, encourage one another, inspire one another, forgive one another, help one another, and strengthen one another.
Neil Strait comments, “Love is the ingredient that makes every relationship in life, whatever it is, a little better. Love has a capacity to mend the broken, heal the hurting, and inspire the despairing. Love that reaches beyond the misunderstandings and the failures is a love that unites and encourages. Such a love is one of our world’s greatest needs.”
God intends for Christian fellowship to be the place where such love happens so that people’s lives are changed by receiving and giving such love.
In Philippians 2:1-2, Paul describes the effect of such loving Christian fellowship on the believers in Philippi: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
Because of their fellowship with one another, they have experienced encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion—the kinds of things each of us need to live a healthy and meaningful life.
Paul Tournier points out, “There are two things we cannot do alone, one is to be married and the other is to be a Christian.”
God designed us in such a way that Christians need fellowship with fellow believers.
Chuck Swindoll adds, “Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link, and the chain is broken…. Nobody is a whole orchestra. Each one is a musician. But take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete…. Cars are composed of numerous parts. Each one is connected to and dependent upon the other. Even if a tiny screw comes loose and falls out of the carburetor, it can bring the whole vehicle to a stop. You guessed it: We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not. To make this thing called life work, we have to lean and support, and relate and respond, and give and take, and confess and forgive, and reach out and embrace, and release and rely.”
How can we learn to love one another in such a way that Christian fellowship accomplishes in people’s lives what God has designed it to accomplish?
Actually, that love comes into our lives through Christ coming into our lives, and it grows in us as we seek for His character to be formed more fully in us.
That’s why Paul goes on to say (in Philippians 2:5-8), “Have this attitude which is yours in Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (something to cling to), but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”
We grow in our capacity to love one another as the Spirit and character of Christ grow in us.