What does true fellowship look like?
That’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately. Looking around at our fallen world, I know that there’s always been division and struggles among people. But right now it feels like there’s far more hatred than friendship in the world.
It’s heartbreaking no matter who it is, or what the situation is like. But when those fighting are believers? I find it devastating.
As believers, we’re called to love one another. To remain united against all the hardships and attacks of the world. To encourage one another, and keep anyone from turning away from Christ.
When Christians are strong together, we’re strong anywhere. Through any situation. Truly amazing things happen when we’re united in close fellowship with God first of all – and also other believers.
But what does that close fellowship look like in practical terms? And how are we supposed to cultivate and nurture it, especially when we don’t agree with others on everything? What if our personalities clash, and spending too much time with someone actually annoys us or wears us out?
Not that that ever happens, right?
As I’m trying to focus more and more on developing close fellowship with the people around me, the most helpful thing I’ve found so far is to study Jesus’ example. He obviously didn’t agree with all the people around Him during His time on Earth, but when He sought to have fellowship with them anyway, He put their differences aside and focused on love.
Not the different way they interpreted Scripture. Not their personal lifestyle choices. Not all the ways they were wrong, and the sins Jesus knew they were committing. Yes, He pointed those things out often enough, but He also didn’t let those slow Him from showing them His love in every way He could. And many times, the love He showed led the person to see the truth anyway.
A lot of people rejected Him. But Jesus didn’t try to control their reactions, and neither should we. We can’t. What I’ve found time and time again, is that when I focus on loving someone; seeking to understand them and what they’ve been through to lead them to their conclusions, then fellowship grows as a result.
We still don’t agree on everything. But we also don’t have to. The core beliefs of salvation are most important. And the peace that enters my heart when I give a relationship to God, and ask Him to guide me in finding the right balance between honesty and love is such a blessing. Life just gets so much simpler with the Holy Spirit guiding us.
In addition to spending time in prayer, and studying Scriptures that remind me of how to be in good fellowship with others, I’ve often found it helpful to hear what other Christians have to say about the matter. So today, I thought I’d share ten of my favorite quotes about fellowship, with the prayer that they help you as much as they help me.
1. “Fellowship is a place of grace, where mistakes aren’t rubbed in but rubbed out. Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice.”
2. “Aloneness can lead to loneliness. God’s preventative for loneliness is intimacy – meaningful, open, sharing relationships with one another. In Christ we have the capacity for the fulfilling sense of belonging which comes from intimate fellowship with God and with other believers.”
(Neil T. Anderson)
3. “Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.”
4.“When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.”
(Corrie Ten Boom)
5. “There are many elements that go into the total concept of fellowship, as it is described in the New Testament, but the sharing together in suffering is one of the most profitable. It probably unites our hearts together in Christ more than any other aspect of fellowship.”
6. “Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.”
7. “It goes against the grain to give an image of oneself that is anything less than perfect, and many Christians imagine that they will be rejected by others if they admit to any faults. But nothing could be more destructive to Christian koinonia (fellowship) than the common practice today of pretending not to have any problems.”
(Ray C. Stedman)
8. “The church exists primarily for two closely correlated purposes: to worship God and to work for his kingdom in the world…The church also exists for a third purpose, which serves the other two: to encourage one another, to build one another up in faith, to pray with and for one another, to learn from one another and teach one another, and to set one another examples to follow, challenges to take up, and urgent tasks to perform. This is all part of what is known loosely as fellowship.”
9. “To gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.”
10. “Be united with other Christians. A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.”
(Corrie Ten Boom)
Whether you’re outgoing, quiet, a ‘people person’, or a person who struggles to be around people, we truly were created for fellowship. Yes, there are often challenges that stem from our friends, but life would be so much harder without them. In my own life, I’ve seen God work through the people around me countless times. Today, I pray that we’d be encouraged to be in fellowship in others, and that we’d never forget how important it is.
Did any of these quotes speak to you today? Go ahead and let me know your favorites in the comments, as well as if there is a certain topic you’d like to see more quotes about. While you’re there, I’d love to hear something YOU’RE learning about fellowship!
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7 NIV)
1. I previously talked about unity in my post here.
2. I shared more of my quote collection in many previous posts, which you can find here.
3. To receive your own printable pages of the above quotes (and the ones used in my other ‘Quotes’ posts), sign up for my email list! Simply fill in the form here, and I’ll send you PDF copies of the quote collections – as well as an inspirational short story. I look forward to hearing from you!