The Compelling Invitation of Fellowship

Remember that first time I stopped by your house? We were on our way someplace together and I had a bowl of soup with you and your family. As I sat there observing you, your wife, your children, and how you related to each other, I asked myself, When will I have a relationship like this with my fiancee? When I realized the answer was “never”, I concluded I had to become a Christian for the sake of my own survival.
— quoted in Alexander Strauch's The Hospitality Commands
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
— John 13:35 [NIV]

One of the goals of these blog posts is to demystify the notion of mission in the life of a Christian.  The idea of being on mission can seem like an overwhelming task in view of the culture and the needs and we can find ourselves thinking it requires adding something to an already too-full schedule.  These short post are a means to help us see together that mission is, generally not something we add to our life, but is about learning to refine what we are already doing.

And when it comes to mission in the Christian life, fellowship plays a foundational role in introducing people to Jesus.

We live in a world of retaliation, broken relationships and superficiality largely growing out of a fear of what people would think of the real me.  And yet in the midst of this, people are wired for relationship and intimacy; men and women around us are longing for acceptance and love.  

The church, the community of God then is the place where people can see and experience forgiveness, deep care, compassion and sympathy because it made up of people who have received these things from God through Christ.  The community also becomes a place where we learn to practice the love God has shown us towards each other so that we can invite others in to see and experience this love.

You see without committing to and practicing this sort of fellowship, the church would be inviting people into shallow relationships that they can find anywhere else. But, when the church devotes itself to practicing...

  • True hospitality, [welcoming strangers]
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation
  • Lending without expecting
  • Honesty and vulnerability knowing that I am accepted and forgiven fully by Jesus
  • People unlike each other actively befriending and involving each other in their lives
  • People from different ethnic backgrounds and age groups pursuing deep relationships with each other learning to appreciate each other's difference because of a common bond through the bloodline of Jesus

Others will want to see and experience and even belong to this sort of community.

And so we need to practice these things and pursue these things so that we can invite others into experiencing this great love that God has shown us.  This means learning to practice forgiveness and forbearance with our spouses and our kids or our roommates and so display a compelling beautiful counter-cultural community of love growing out of this love that God, has and does and will continue to show us.

Deep biblical fellowship in Christian community is the tangible expression of God's love for a world longing for deep and meaningful relationships.

So...

  • What steps can I take towards pursuing deeper and more meaningful community with my church?
  • Who around me might be longing for this sort of fellowship that I could invite to my church, my small group, my family meal?
  • What part of true fellowship listed above do I need to practice and get better at with God's help?

 

Resources