“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42 NLT)
The term “fellowship”is used frequently among believers in Jesus, but I’m afraid we have largely lost sight of its meaning. We say things like: “Let’s meet up at a restaurant and have some fellowship.” Or “Let’s get together at my house on Monday, watch the game, and have some fellowship.” It’s not that those kinds of usage are wrong, they’re just not what the New Testament use of them typically meant.
We see a clearer picture in I Corinthians 1:9 where Paul writes: “God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In this verse, the same word that was translated “fellowship” in Acts 2:42, is translated “partnership.” What’s the difference?
Yes, of course, as God’s children we’re invited into friendship, that is often enhanced and can grow by spending time together eating and watching sports events, or in many other ways. However, in Scripture we see a more specific understanding of the term, centered around the partnering of those who know and love Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, in the carrying out of His specific mission and purpose for us.
John was Jesus’ closest earthly friend when He was carrying out His ministry. This is the John to whom Jesus, from the Cross, entrusted the care of His mother (see John 19:27). John wrote in 1 John 1:3: “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” When you see “fellowship,” think “partnership.”
We’re not simply invited to hang out with Jesus, which He loves, but to follow in His steps as He sacrificially laid down His life to free us from our sin and to experience life to the max as He lives in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Fellowship/partnership with the Holy Spirit involves digging into Scripture together, learning what it means to be in partnership with Jesus in carrying the message of the Cross to everyone we possibly can, through whatever means we possibly can, for as long as we possibly can. It means spending time in prayer, not just “saying prayers,” but agonizing with God, seeking Him above every earthly trinket, seeking Him moment by moment as the Treasure He truly is to those who have placed their trust in Him.
For someone who truly knows and loves Jesus, our lives cannot be “business as usual.” True “fellowship” with God and with each other as believers, must include learning how to make Him known everywhere He leads us, every day until He returns or calls us home.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore (or on the basis of all that I’ve accomplished through My life, death, resurrection, and soon ascension), go and make disciples of all the nations…” The word “disciples” here means to instruct those who are coming to Christ “to follow His precepts and instructions.” That takes time, serious commitment, and prayer that becomes our lifeline to the heart of God.
The equipping of the Spirit must be continuous and can be strenuous and painful, but nothing on earth is more rewarding. Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t something we learn in a classroom, check it off, and go back to living any way we choose. When we become a Christ follower, we’re essentially giving ourselves up for His sacred and holy purpose. Paul reminds us that we are not our own, “for God bought you with a high price.”
The privilege of fellowship with God and with one another as believers, isn’t to be taken lightly, but is a commitment we make to God and to each other to let His Spirit train, equip, and use us in any way He sees fit, through life and through death.
Blessings, Ed 😊