Energizers: Fellowship

So… I thought I posted my new Energizers post since I wrote it.  Apparently not.  Not only did I not post it, but I deleted the file with it in it because I thought I didn’t need it anymore.  And I have no idea what I wrote, so I’m starting from scratch.

I think one of the most important and probably least understood elements of the Christian life aside from spending time in the Bible and prayer is fellowship.  It seems each person has their own idea of what makes for good fellowship, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to conflict because someone decides their idea of fellowship is the right way.  Certainly, there are necessary elements for any interaction to classify as fellowship, but what it looks like can vary drastically from person to person.  For example, for one person, spending an hour at a coffee shop talking about books with a friend may constitute fellowship.  For another, spending time singing songs of praise to God with fellow believers may define fellowship.  And quite honestly, both could be fellowship or could not be fellowship.

One factor of fellowship that we rarely discuss is how it energizes us.  From the most introverted to the most extroverted, when a person experiences true fellowship with another believer, they are energized.  Thus, the importance of knowing not only the general concept of fellowship but what is fellowship for you.

Generally speaking, fellowship is the interaction of two or more individuals.  We can experience fellowship with God and we can experience fellowship with other believers who are also pursuing God.  In either case, that exact experience varies in application, but some basic fundamentals remain the same.

If we wish to have fellowship with God or fellow believers, communication must occur.  Eastern meditation encourages us to empty our minds; meditation that brings fellowship with God encourages us to do exactly the opposite.  We are to fill our minds with the Word of God, with praise for Him, with thanksgiving for the blessings He lavishes upon us.  We are to pour out our hearts to Him, but we are also to let Him fill us with Himself.  This provides a tremendous amount of energy for the spiritual life.

God created us as relational beings; it’s part of being an image bearer.  While God desires our attention and our focus, He also expects, commands, and delights in our fellowship with other believers.  I think often we ignore the fact that when we have fellowship with other believers, we bring glory to God.  Maybe we don’t ignore it so much as don’t realize it.  But the Body of Christ is designed to work together and part of working together involves being invested in one another’s lives in real and meaningful ways.  No matter how introverted a person may be, they are still commanded to use their gifts, talents, and abilities in the Body of Christ for the equipping of the saints.  Just because a person isn’t gifted in a way that makes them a great preacher doesn’t mean that they are excluded from the command to equip others.  And while equipping others does mean serving in areas where they can’t so that they can focus on their gifts, it also means we train others that are similarly gifted to use their gifts.  We can’t do that if we aren’t communicating with them, and we are still ineffective at it if we aren’t part of their lives.  If we don’t know what is going on in their lives, we cannot be aware of pitfalls which may hamper their growth and their use of their gifts.

When we are being equipped and when we are equipping, we are given a different energy to serve.  It’s still God working in and through us, but it is also getting to see and bear fruit from our lives.  Isn’t it a great feeling when you come together with others and discuss something and see a conflict resolved peacefully or when you all share a vision for something and begin to see how with your various gifts you are able to pursue that vision together?  Isn’t it great when you see someone growing as you are teaching them?  Ism’t it also great when you experience victory over a certain struggle and can share that with others?  We really are built to share our lives with others.

For some of us, sharing life with others is daunting if it’s in the context of large groups only.  We aren’t comfortable sharing ourselves with large groups of people and we don’t feel connected to anyone when we have to be around more than two or three.  For others of us, sharing life on a one on one level seems complicated.  We can connect to groups of people; they revive us and we can connect.  We are able to be around a bunch of people and still have conversations with individuals.

The point isn’t that fellowship has to look a particular way, but we also have to be careful not to shun an opportunity just because it doesn’t fit with our personality or our preferences.  When we do that, we miss out on the ways God can grow us and stretch us outside of our comfort zone.  It’s not comfortable; it’s not supposed to be.  It does, however, give us a chance to give all glory to God because we experienced fellowship in a way that was unnatural to us.  I find even when those times are exhausting, they come with their own energy as I realize, “Wow!  God just did that!”  It’s super exciting.  And the next time a chance comes along, I’m still terrified to take it, but I can look back on a lifetime of moments when God did something I wasn’t comfortable with and see how it all turned out for His glory.  That makes it all worth it.