New Apostolic Church USA

Life-Giving Moments

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

How do we experience fellowship with Christ?

Through our participation in Holy Communion. This is true fellowship—communion with Christ. No other moments compare with this one; it is the purest form of fellowship that we can experience on this earth. The bread and wine are not merely metaphors or symbols for the body and blood of Christ. Instead, the body and blood of Christ are joined to the bread and the wine and Christ becomes truly present in Holy Communion. Every time we partake of Holy Communion, it is a visible expression of our sharing in the life of Christ.

We can see the significance of the sacrament in this verse from Paul: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16- 17).

Chief Apostle Schneider recently said, “…when we come together and celebrate Holy Communion, our fellowship with God is strengthened, and our fellowship with one another is strengthened. Our fellowship with God is strengthened because we realize that we are dependent on Him. We also share in the merit of Christ. We weren’t victorious over sin, Christ was. Yet He allows us to share in His victory. This brings us closer to Him.” This is also expressed in our Catechism, which reminds us that Holy Communion is a meal of fellowship. In Holy Communion, Jesus has fellowship with His Apostles and with the believers, and, moreover, the believers have fellowship with each other (CNAC 8.2.10). Holy Communion is a meal of direct and intimate fellowship with the Savior, and we share in it together.

What a gratuitous, undeserved gift from God! In Holy Communion, we have the experience that St. Augustine noted: He loves each of us as if there were only one of us. Each child of God has the privilege of enjoying intimate fellowship with Christ as if they were the sole object of His affections. This is most personally experienced in Holy Communion when we hear the words, The body and blood of Jesus given for you. Jesus’ closest disciples were able to experience this true fellowship with the Lord first-hand when He instituted Holy Communion during the Last Supper, and they were forever changed.

How does fellowship with Christ change us?

In the transformative moments of Holy Communion, we are given the strength to “put on” the virtues of Christ: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:12). That which we freely receive in Christ, we are to share with others freely. Thus, Holy Communion inspires our relationships with one another. Our fellowship in Christ unifies us; it is what makes us Christians! Holy Communion also gives us the strength to walk in the newness of life, which does not make us sinless, but as we overcome our will with God’s, it will help us sin less.

As mentioned earlier, fellowship means a shared life, purpose, and goal, which we find in Christ and with His believers, and which inevitably overflows into our thoughts and actions.

We seek out opportunities for spiritual conversations and sharing. Whether it is in a small group setting, a one-on-one conversation in the back of the church, or with family members in the living room or around the kitchen table, one of the most important things we can do to build up and encourage one another is to talk about the new life we share in Jesus Christ. Chief Apostle Schneider inspires us “...to let our faith come to expression in our congregations, and thereby comfort and strengthen one another…Let us please talk about our deep, simple faith: I believe in the resurrection. I believe in Jesus Christ, and I want to be there!” We speak of our shared goal—to be with Christ. Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you… As we together learn from Christ, we also learn from one another. When we share things of spiritual substance, we grow and mature in our faith and relationship with God, while also encouraging our neighbor to do the same.

Our fellowship with Christ also inspires us to serve the Lord together, to share our spiritual gifts and material possessions, and to join our voices in song and prayer. The early Christians recognized the value of serving and sharing in these ways. They desired to be united in Christ in everything they did. Unity in Christ is something that we must also pursue and practice. Apostle Paul often exhorted his congregations to these behaviors: I…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Intentionally pursuing true fellowship with Christ and with each other is critical for our spiritual growth and health as individuals and the growth and health of the church; it goes much deeper than coffee and cake. Deep, abiding fellowship with the Lord and with one another edifies, sustains, and is rich in substance, giving us a foretaste of the intimate and eternal fellowship that we hope to experience in God’s kingdom to come.

It’s true that words matter. They shape and define our actions and thoughts. When we use the word fellowship, may our thoughts go toward Holy Communion and the intimate fellowship we have with Christ in these life-changing and life-giving moments.

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