In 1 John 1:3, John tells us the reason he is writing is so that we will have fellowship with each other, with the Father, and with the Son. In marking out these different types of relationships, John is saying, our fellowship with one another, and our fellowship with God is based on our fellowship with Jesus. This differentiation is made more clear in verse 7, when John says our fellowship with one another is based on Jesus’ cleansing of our sins. What we learn in these two verses is that only through our belief in the person and work of Jesus, can we have true fellowship with the Father and with one another.
The Exclusivity of the Gospel
Before I explain what it means to have fellowship with one another, I want to make a point about the exclusivity of the gospel. The fact that we can only have fellowship with God through Jesus means those who believe they can have fellowship with God through other means are mistaken. When those in society claim there are multiple ways to God, or say we need to all co-exist, they are proclaiming another gospel, a false gospel that does not lead to God. The gospel is exclusive and there is only one way to be reconciled to God and experience true fellowship with Him and one another and that is through Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to have fellowship?
Fellowship carries the idea of a close mutual relationship involving mutual interests and sharing. It is a uniquely Christian relational experience that no one but those born of the Spirit of God can experience.
Fellowship With God
To have fellowship with God means we are reconciled to God through our union with Christ. This occurs by believing we are sinners who are in need of a Savior and that Jesus is that Savior. He is God incarnate, eternally existing with the Father, who came in the form of man, dying on the cross for our sins and resurrecting on the third day to ascend to the throne where He now reigns as King. Through our belief in this good news, or what we would call the gospel message, we have fellowship with God. Even more than a reconciled relationship with God, our fellowship with God means we accept His values, His commandments, and His message about Himself and us, and we live accordingly.
Fellowship With One Another
Now that we know what it means to have fellowship with God, we need to ask and answer the question: What does it means to have fellowship with one another? In order to answer that question, I want to talk about what Christian fellowship is not.
What Christian Fellowship is Not
Christian Fellowship is not any warm human exchange we might have with one another. Granted we may share interests with one another such as: Hunting, hiking, fishing, sports, knitting, facebooking, running, a love for the outdoors, or even discussing the latest political candidates, but talking about or participating in these interests together does not constitute Christian fellowship. Remember, Christian fellowship is a uniquely Christian relational experience. We can experience these things with anyone, Christian or not. So then, if Christian fellowship is not solely getting together with Christians to talk and hang out, then what is it?
What Christian Fellowship is
Christian Fellowship means we are participating together in the life and truth made possible by the Holy Spirit through our union with Christ. It is sharing something in common on the deepest possible level of human relationships – our experience of God Himself.
Christian fellowship then involves mutual care and love for one another which is expressed by:
- Sharing what God has done in our life
- Sharing what we are learning in His Word
- Confessing sin to one another
- Correcting one another
- Worshipping God together
- Praying for one another
- Utilizing our Spiritual gifts
- Carrying one another’s burdens
- Serving one another
This means we cannot say we are having true Christian fellowship:
- Until we have moved from talking about the latest game to talking about God’s Word.
- Until we have moved from the weather to what God is doing in our lives.
- Until we are truly self-sacrificially loving one another.
Christian fellowship is a uniquely Christian relationship that involves more than a warm human exchange we might have with one another. It is deeper than shared worldly interests. It is a relationship we can only have by believing the gospel message concerning Jesus. It only occurs when we connect on a level we cannot connect on with those in the world because they do not share our relationship with Jesus and God. May we regularly take advantage of this unique relationship we share with others who believe in Christ as their Savior.
In order to help promote Christian fellowship, I have written another post: Gospel Conversations and Biblical Fellowship.