Fellowship Is Good for the Circulation
Updated: 5 days ago
Greetings Narrow Gate,
I pray that each of you is well and and remaining, as much as possible, within the body of Christ. Today I would like to continue our look into fellowship and its importance to the believer. Last week we looked at the critical nature that fellowship plays as a means of perseverance for the child of God. Less fellowship means that less perseverance, less stamina is available and the believer becomes weaker in faith. No fellowship can mean that no perseverance and no stamina is being fed into the believer. Eventually the believer is poured out and empty. Soon the believer's spiritual essence can die, just as if they had thirsted to death.
I have seen this happen in many people. Having worked in a Christian bookstore and attended a large church, I have made the acquaintance of many believers from all over the Cabarrus County area. One challenge for all of us in Christ is the church split. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of remaining in the church body. I have seen scores of people, once firm believers in Christ, who have fallen away from the Lord because of a church split or some lesser disagreement within their church.
These folks, in most cases, willingly withdrew themselves from their church. They chose to cut off their own fellowship to the body of Christ. Now, they attend no church, haven't for many years, and though most realize their error, they are too stubborn, too prideful or too mad at God to seek to confront the real issue. Which is this, no matter what confronts us in our life, we are each responsible for working out our own salvation.
Today I want to explain how this happens, so that we might understand and avoid this happening to us and the ones that we love. One thing is certain, people in church will continue to disagree and some churches will continue to split. We can and should choose to not be collateral damage. Romans 12:4-5,
"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
Here the physical human body is being compared to the Church body comprised of all who believe in Christ. We have all these different body parts within the human body that function in unison to keep us healthy and alive. So it is then within the one body of Christ, unifying a myriad of diverse members, all functioning to keep the church healthy and alive.
The body of Christ is not just a local church affiliation either, we are just as united with our brethren in China or Syria as we are with our brethren in Concord, at least we should be. 1 John 1:5-7,
"This is the message we have heard for him (Christ) and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light (like Jesus) we have a fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
Light represents what is good, what is true, what is holy. As believers, true believers, we are not giving just lip service to our faith. We are united to God through Christ's sacrifice, through the very blood of Christ. If we are claiming fellowship with God, yet still in darkness, we are lying to ourselves, we are not a part of the body. This is where so many of all those people that I've met over the years have backslidden to, a sad state of seemingly spiritual self isolation, brought on by grief, anger and denial.
Having been in fellowship, these folks are now outside the fellowship (what a miserable state to be in), unable to see the truth(or understand the truth) or unable to humble themselves to the point of taking corrective action to reconcile with their loving God. We must seek God's forgiveness, Christ's blood must cover our sins. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin.
This then is how I want us to look at the function of fellowship today in the body of Christ: as a circulatory function within the church body. Just as blood flow within our bodies brings in the good and takes out the bad, so does fellowship within the body of Christ continually cleanse and renew our relationship with Christ. Leviticus 17:11,
"For the life of a creature is in the blood"
Without blood flow nothing lives. In fact, if blood flow is cut off to a part of the body, it deteriorates, gangrene sets in and so does the putrefaction process.
Likewise, if fellowship is cut off for the Christian, spiritual putrefaction can result. Putrefaction is a stage in the decomposition process which ultimately results in the breakdown of cohesion between body tissues.
For a brief time in my life I drove for Cabarrus County taking patients to and from doctors appointments. One of the groups of patients were those in need of dialysis. Their kidneys, for whatever reason, were not functioning correctly. This was incredibly taxing upon their bodies. Pain, discomfort, skin discoloration and many other negative symptoms, these people were and are in my prayers. Their blood and kidneys were not working properly.
Now for those for whom the circulation of fellowship is cut off, the body of Christ will not function correctly for them. It doesn't matter if it is the fault of someone else or their own fault, if they are no longer in the light, the shadow of darkness will fall over them. Remember, each of us is responsible for working out our own salvation. This will continue until they either move back into the light (regain fellowship) or the darkness covers them completely.
For the blood of Christ to have its continual, necessary cleansing effect over our sins, we must remain attached to the body of Christ. If for any reason, we sever fellowship with His body, we are cutting off the circulation, and the benefits, of Jesus' cleansing blood.
Salvation is based on our faith, not our actions. Church attendance is not necessary for salvation in and of itself. However, to the extent that it is for most of us, a primary way to stay "in fellowship" with Christ's body, church is necessary for the majority of us. I would say it is necessary for all of us, no excuse. If you are not attending church and nothing else as well, my guess is that the shadow of darkness is hanging over you.
Spiritual growth is a continual process for all believers. I am growing more now, spiritually, than I did as a convert. I am no different from anyone else. I am a regular human, not perfect, but I am growing spiritually. It should be this way for all of us. If we have no fellowship, we have little or no spiritual growth. If you're not growing, your dying. None of us wants to be in this situation, whether physically or spiritually. If you are not in fellowship you will not grow spiritually.
As we grow spiritually we mature spiritually. As this happens, we are more and more able to deal with people and situations that would have chased us out of church at an earlier time in our lives. Regrettably, many of those I spoke of earlier no longer in fellowship with the body were indeed young in the faith.
Our relationship with Christ is obviously the basis for the forgiveness of our sins, HOWEVER, the Bible teaches us that we cannot have a proper relationship with Jesus if we our having problems within his body. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus teaches us this,
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother or sister; then come and offer your gift."
We are charged with making things right with our brothers and sisters. Heaven help those of us who cause trouble and grief within the body. Jesus, in Mark 9:42 tells us this,
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around their neck"
Part of the spiritual maturation process is realizing that Christians aren't perfect. Nothing about the church is perfect. We operate by the grace of God. If we're not extending grace AND receiving grace everyday, we're probably not doing as we should. This idea of not causing our brothers and sisters to stumble in their faith is an important concept for the health and perpetuation of the body of Christ. 1 John 2:10,
"Whoever loves his brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make anyone stumble."
So, it is essential for each one of us to be an active part of Christian fellowship. Jesus teachings emphasize this importance. Matthew 18:20, Jesus speaks of our gathering together,
"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Please realize why Jesus takes this gathering together personally. If you refuse to gather in fellowship, you are refusing to gather with Jesus, no matter the excuse. Fellowship in the body isn't just an option, its critical to our growth and well being as a Christian. In fact, it's a blessing, a perk for being a Christian, a privilege.
The cleansing blood of Jesus flows through our fellowship within the body. This is why those of us who have been unable to fellowship might be feeling out of sorts. As soon as you feel able and comfortable to return to fellowship within the body of Christ, I encourage you to do so. Do not let being absent from the body of Christ become a habit.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC