New Apostolic Church USA

Sharing Life

"True Fellowship: A relationship, not an activity." Part 1 of 2 from the 2020 Summer Vision Newsletter

What is fellowship? We use this word often in our circles, but it has evolved over time away from its original meaning. Today, fellowship has come to mean little more than an informal social gathering, often over food. We say fondly, “where there is food - there is fellowship!” A standard dictionary definition of the word fellowship is “a friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interest.” This type of gathering is enjoyable and encouraged. However, when we compare it to the fellowship that those in the first church prioritized, we can see very clearly that we are often missing the mark in our use of the term. The early Christians gave it a much deeper meaning.

Let us examine the word fellowship in the context of the New Testament. The Greek word in the Bible for fellowship is koinonia, which is most commonly translated into English as “communion” and “sharing a common life.” This gives us a different understanding of fellowship than the dictionary definition above. True fellowship goes much deeper than being friendly or spending time with those who like what we like. It is a relationship, not an activity. It denotes participation or sharing rather than simply an association with others. In the German Bible, the word used for fellowship is translated as “many sharing life” or “many sharing a purpose.” Here we find the true intention of the word. Fellowship means sharing life and sharing purpose.

For Christians, fellowship means sharing in the life of Christ! He, alone, gives us a shared purpose and a shared goal.

Recognizing our dependence on Christ deepens our experience of communion with Him, which in turn establishes and enriches our fellowship with one another. As we begin to understand the wonder of Christ’s love and His desire to share His life with us, it inspires us to connect with, commune, and understand each other. Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV).

How is it possible to have fellowship with Christ?

The triune God embodies perfect unity and fellowship. He created us to be in relationship and invites us into the fellowship of the Trinity. In 1 Corinthians 1:9, we read: God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through the sacrament of baptism, God brings us into His nearness. He also establishes us into a community of believers, the Church. One can only be a Christian in a collective sense; there can be no “individual” Christian. God created us to be in community. We need each other to learn to love one another the way Christ taught us to love, and in so doing, experience His kingdom already now.

As Christians, we are united in fellowship with Christ. The believer is united to Christ in such a way that he or she participates in all the virtue and power of the risen and glorified Lord! We share in the very life of Christ Himself. He is the vine, and we are the branches. He is the head, and we are the body. We are spiritually a part of Him, for we are members of His body. This is the common life that we share as believers - the life of Jesus Christ. Christ is the basis and the essence of our fellowship! He is what connects us; there is no fellowship without Him.

In our baptism, we are invited into the fellowship of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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