Monday, 11 November 2013

Thoughts on fellowship (6)

There are many prerequisites for fellowship – here are four. The first is that Christian fellowship requires time. This point is so elementary, but it is liable to be forgotten. We cannot have fellowship unless we set aside the time for it. This may mean that we have to change our priorities, and it may mean that times of fellowship have to be organised.

A second feature of true Christian fellowship is trust. Of course, the question we should ask is not, ‘Can I trust that person?’ Instead we should ask, ‘Can that person trust me?’ Trust is not only revealed in confidentiality. In a sense, that is easy. All confidentiality requires is for a person to keep his mouth shut. Trust also involves commitment. Commitment in Christian fellowship will be seen in the frequency of meeting together, and in the fervency of earnest, regular prayer for one another.

A third feature of Christian fellowship is tenderness. Each person in a Christian church has sore points. They may be current troubles in providence, they may be mistakes in the past, they may be disappointed hopes from long ago. When believers meet together in fellowship, they should show great sensitivity for one another. This does not mean that they cannot have a disagreement about an aspect of Christian doctrine or Christian living. Yet they will be tender to one another.

The fourth feature of Christian fellowship to note is that it requires talk. It is not possible to have corporate fellowship in silence. One can be present in a room full of others in which nothing is said. What happens then is that a group of people have individual fellowship and it would make no difference if the rest were not there. Proper fellowship requires sharing. We should imitate the example of the believers mentioned in Malachi 3:16: ‘Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name.’

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