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Joy of Christian Fellowship

 Acts 2: 42

 The Christians at Jerusalem were a community, not just a society.
They were the church -- the body of Christ.
In Christ they shared a common life.
They shared His life.
Their shared activities had meaning, only in that, they expressed this common life, which they had in Christ.

It is important to distinguish the fellowship of these Jerusalem Christians from mere cooperation.
Almost daily, cooperation is eulogized as an ideal.
In truth, cooperation, in itself, is not good, and it is not bad.
It is neutral.

Criminals come together because of a common goal, to commit some crime.
And they achieve cooperation in their crime.

So, cooperation is, in itself, meaningless.
It is practiced daily for evil purposes.

These Christians at Jerusalem were living a common life; they were not merely cooperating,
they were truly sharing with each other.

Jesus calls us into a fellowship in which we are privileged to live a common and creative life with Him
and our fellow Christians.

Even being in "accord" or "together" is of itself, neutral.
Luke uses the word, "one accord" (homothumadow), "agreement," "together" ten times in Acts.

  • It describes the united prayer of the disciples. (1: 14)
  • It describes the waiting together for the day of Pentecost. (2: 1)
  • It describes attending the temple together. (2: 46)
  • It describes praying together for courage following the release of Peter and John. (4: 24)
  • It describes the banding together of Christians in Solomon's porch. (5: 12)
  • It describes the listening together by the Samaritans as Philip preached. (8: 6)
  • It describes the agreement of the apostolic council. (15: 25)

 But the identical word also describes the murderous assault on Stephen. (7: 57)
It also describes the hypocritical flattering of Herod Agrippa by the people of Tyre and Sidon. (12: 20)
It described the united attack of the Jews upon Paul. (18: 12)
And it described the rushing together into the theater by the mad mob at Ephesus. (19:29)

Obviously, people may be in "accord," "together" or "in agreement"  for evil or for good.
Accord is not enough!

It is only that fellowship among men, which is derived from a fellowship with God that is good.
The church, the body of Christ, is such a fellowship.

"Fellowship" is one of the greatest and richest words in the New Testament.
The Greek word is "koinonia," so rich in its suggestiveness that you find it translated in many ways:
fellowship, communion, distribution, contribution, partnership.

Verse 44 states that they "had all things common." (koinos)
That is not always to be associated with the material.
It was expressed in that way; but it is the having of all things in common that is the emphasis here.
What happened to these people?
What happened to you and me when we were added to the church?
This is what happened: all of God's resources were placed at our disposal,
and all we are and have is placed at His disposal.

Whenever the love of Christ possesses a group of Christians, that group of Christians
will never forget what they experience.
There will be total acceptance, honest sharing and genuine loving.
There will be an overflowing happiness.
There will be a fellowship to which we can invite outsiders, knowing that when they come,
they will see the reality of Christ's love lived out in His children.

Our churches are filled with people who, outwardly, look contented and at peace,
but inwardly, are crying out for someone to love them.

And there are other people in the church who look so happy and contented that others
seldom have the courage to admit their deep needs before such a self-sufficient group.

As church members, we like to think that loneliness, lovelessness, and snobbery
does not exist among us.
And most of the time we keep a mask of spiritual pride in place, instead of admitting
that there is needless, deep, humiliating hurt in the hearts of the church family.

These things exist in every congregation, and we must be concerned about them.
These things must be corrected.

We belong to one another in Jesus Christ.
He or she may hurt me, may sin against me, and may cause me many heartaches --
but still, he or she belongs to me and I belong to them.
We are family!

This is the basis of our Christian fellowship.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of koinonia -- "community" or "fellowship," as it is in Acts.
There is not a more essential concept in the New Testament than that of the one-ness of those who are in Christ.

Our world today needs Christians and churches empowered by the Spirit and tested in fellowship.
We need the company of others who know the Lord, especially when they are new converts.

So, what is Christian fellowship?
Is it having a meal in "fellowship hall"?
Is it having a picnic or a Sunday school class party?
Is it just another meeting?

Fellowship can happen anywhere, and under any circumstance.
It really means that Christians get involved with each other, and share love around the Word of God.

There have been times after you have been with other Christians, that you felt it was a wasted evening.
There have been other times when you have experienced true fellowship,
and have come away refreshed.

In a real Christian fellowship Christians do not judge one another, and they don't bite and devour each other.
Also, they don't provoke, envy, lie to one another, speaking evil, or grumble about one another.

True fellowship builds.
It means Christians share with one another, they are kind to one another, and they are
tenderhearted to one another.

  • And they forbear and forgive one another.
  • They serve one another.
  • They practice hospitality to one another.
  • They instruct and submit to to one another.
  • They comfort one another.
     

 This is real Christian fellowship.

It is only as we recapture this oneness in Christ that we shall be able to experience the kind of fellowship
these early Christians enjoyed and the kind of fellowship we must have.
Life is empty without the stimulation, encouragement, guidance, and joy that comes to us
through our Christian brothers and sisters.

We will demonstrate our love for fellow Christian by what we do.
Whatever we think, say, or do should reflect the fact that we are all in Christ.

"We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.
And we pray that all fellowship will one day be restored;
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love;
Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love
."

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com


 

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