Your Essential Fellows
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul.” Acts 2:42
“Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.’ I know I am very fortunate in that respect.” (C.S. Lewis) He also wrote in one of his letters, “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire.”
Fellowship is essential to the Christian’s soul. He was not made for alienation and isolation. His true created being was intended to be drawn out, refined and purified in the crucible of fellowship. Not that the crucible is a painful affair, though possibly for the terribly shy, but even in fellowship there are other shy fellows who find confidence among like personalities. C.S. Lewis also wrote in his “The Four Loves”: “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to draw the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. … In this, Friendship resembles a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing him in her own way.”
What we know of God from powerful inference from His Word is that He enjoyed fellowship in His very being, the fellowship of the three-person Trinity. And we are created in His image, not the image of specific trinity, for that is unique to God, but the actual factual image of the enjoyment and fruition of fellowship with like believers. We are beings created for the luxury of fellowship and not alien isolation, which rather resembles Hell. Our fellows, in our humanity, are essential. God never had any intention to create you to be isolated and alone. Created in His image you were created to enjoy and be made whole by Christ in relationship and friendship with your believing fellows.
Conveniences of the modern age present both blessings and curses to true fellowship. Facebook and such can certainly remind you of past friends, but social media conversation falls far short of full blown fellowship, in the true company of others, bodily and not merely digitally. Fellowship demands the involvement of the whole person with all the senses engaged. It is why John describes his fellowship with Jesus this way: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3)
Fellowship is a necessary element to Christian growth. To grow within a body of fellow believers is the intent of the Lord for you. He chose 12 disciples/apostles not one. He spoke through His Word of each person in the body having a vital purpose of toe, finger, arm, hand, tongue that the whole body might be fit together to grow into its head, even up into Jesus Christ; an analogy of what fellowship is; growing and maturing together. As the writer of Hebrews says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Fellowship is a necessary ingredient of the Christian life, not to be avoided, but rather encouraged with all the urgency in eagerly awaiting His coming… together!
“How beautiful the sight of brethren who agree in friendship to unite, and bonds of charity; ‘Tis like the precious ointment, shed o’er all his robes, from Aaron’s head.”
(1st verse of James Montgomery’s versification of Psalm 133, 1771-1854)
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